02 June 2014

IRS TAG BOLO-es Z Street

The headline was made as opaque as possible intentionally. Just an attempt to mimic the fashionable government-speak of the recent years. What government functionary doesn't secretly yearn for a uniform, complete with a side arm, highly polished boots and all kinds of regimental and other stickers, strategically placed on the said uniform, after all? And the dim three- or four-letter abbreviations are part and parcel of looking (or, at least, feeling) manly, I guess. As close to a Tom Clancy techno-thriller as possible...

But I promise to unravel the tangle of these abbreviations, as we go further into the article what tells the whole sad story. There is that relatively new organization, Z Street that was founded to counterweight the (by now) famous left wing J Street, the one that walks a very thin line between what they call support for Israel and flirting with various anti-Israeli outfits (infamous BDS not excluded).

Whatever the reasons for creating Z Street are and whatever it does as the counterweight to J Street are topics I am totally not going into in this post. What boggles my mind is IRS involvement with this (and many other, as far as I understand) organizations in US that for some reason seem to fall out of favor with the current administration. "IRS", by the way, is an abbreviation that hardly needs my interpretation.

To avoid misunderstanding, I'll make an effort to be as objective as possible and state up front that I don't have a problem with a government (any government) that wants to make sure that its generosity, expressed in bestowing tax-exempt status to moneys flowing to an out-of-country outfits, isn't being abused for some hidden aims that differ from these of the said government. It is the government's prerogative and one should be a hypocrite to object to that statement. So there.

Apparently, IRS has a TAG (Touch and Go) department, under which brief come some cases of organizations that ask for tax-exempt status, while suspected of activities not aligned with what US government would consider kosher.
According to the agency’s Internal Revenue Manual, TAG’s purpose is to “identify cases handled by Exempt Organizations (EO) Determinations early in the process that may involve an abusive tax avoidance transaction, fraud, or terrorism.”
Don't you feel a shiver reading this? I dare say I wouldn't like to fall into one of these three categories, would you? But rest assured, neither abusive tax avoidance nor fraud were a part of what triggered Z Street being investigated by the intrepid TAG. So, as you can see, the one that is left is the big T. How come, you ask? Here it is:
The manager of the IRS’s TAG group, Jon Waddell, said in a sworn affidavit in the Z Street litigation that he determined that Z Street’s application should be referred to the TAG group because its application indicated it “could be providing resources to organizations within Israel or facilitating the provision of resources to organizations within the state of Israel” and that “Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that “have a ‘higher risk of terrorism.’”
This is mind-boggling. The sheer all-inclusive absurdity of this simple exercise, when the language is dumbed down to suit any nefarious purpose, is awful in its bureaucratic splendor.

This is a life saving formula for any bureaucrat who will want to do something anti-Israeli, hiding behind this all-inclusive sentence. Israel has a ‘higher risk of terrorism’, so... (substitute a punishment of your own). With a small leap of imagination one can see the same formula applied to Boeing, Lockheed etc. supplies to Israel. Or anything else, for that matter...

I am not very good in providing parallels, but this mind-boggling formula is akin to a judge sentencing a criminal and his victim to the same prison time, since "I don't care who started first". Amazing. But this is a government-issue bit of wisdom to you. Go and argue with it. If you will.

(I know, I know - I didn't explain what BOLO means. For crying out loud - don't you watch these police procedurals? Anyway, it is in the second paragraph of that article.)


Dick Stanley said...

I maintain, and I am hardly alone these days, that the IRS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democrat party, the only truly powerful Leftist political party in the U.S. So it's not just the current administration because the IRS is forever, so to speak. Or so they like to think. That's one reason I like Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz who is campaigning, in part, to abolish the IRS and make tax payments simple without all the political rigmarole that this obvious discrimination is a part of.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

And more power to Cruz, although I don't really believe he will succeed in this endeavor.

Dick Stanley said...

What can't go on forever won't.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

That is true. Let's hope we shall see the end or, at least, a transformation of that outfit.