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501(c)(3) tax exemption

IRS rules for 501(c)(3)s

Form 990 of MECCS

Propaganda and possible libel

Attempts to influence legislation



Electronic Intifada: Propaganda or Education?
Should the Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society lose its 501(c)(3) tax exemption?
Electronic Intifada: a program service of the Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.

Per http://electronicintifada.net/contact/
"The EI Project is a program service of the Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. U.S. taxpayers can make tax deductible donations to support our work."
IRS Publication 557, "Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p557.pdf
Advocacy of a position. Advocacy of a particular position or viewpoint may be educational if there is a sufficiently full and fair exposition of pertinent facts to permit an individual or the public to form an independent opinion or conclusion. The mere presentation of unsupported opinion is not educational.

Method not educational.

The method used by an organization to develop and present its views is a factor in determining if an organization qualifies as educational within the meaning of section 501(c)(3). The following factors may indicate that the method is not educational.

  • The presentation of viewpoints unsupported by facts is a significant part of the organization's communications.
  • The facts that purport to support the viewpoint are distorted.
  • The organization's presentations make substantial use of inflammatory and disparaging terms and express conclusions more on the basis of emotion than of objective evaluations.
  • The approach used is not aimed at developing an understanding on the part of the audience because it does not consider their background or training.
  • Exceptional circumstances, however, may exist where an organization's advocacy may be educational even if one or more of the factors listed above are present.
    How to complain about activities of a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization
    You may contact IRS Customer Service operations concerning tax-exempt organizations at (877) 829-5500 (toll-free number). The call center is open 8:00am to 9:30pm Eastern Time. Or you may write to us at the following address:

    Internal Revenue Service
    TE/GE Division, Customer Service
    P.O. Box 2508
    Cincinnati, OH 45201

    The Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society doesn't tell the IRS about Electronic Intifada
    The group's Form 990 is available from http://www.guidestar.org/. You must register (it's free) to be able to download a Form 990 tax return, in Adobe Acrobat format. Here is the group's identification information:
    Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society
    Cambridge, MA 02238
    EIN: 04-3105608 (this is their employee identification number)


    Electronic Intifada uses inflammatory and possibly libelous language re: the accidental death of American peace activist Rachel Corrie

    Electronic Intifada makes inflammatory and probably libelous accusations regarding the accidental death of American peace activist Rachel Corrie (emphasis is mine) http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article1248.shtml

     Photo story: Israeli bulldozer driver murders American peace activist
    Nigel Parry and Arjan El Fassed, The Electronic Intifada, 16 March 2003

     "On 16 March 2003 in Rafah, occupied Gaza, 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie from Olympia, Washington, was murdered by an Israeli bulldozer driver. Rachel was in Gaza opposing the bulldozing of a Palestinian home as a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement."

    I am not an attorney but I believe the accusation of "murder" is libelous as well as inflammatory because it is directed at the bulldozer driver, an identifiable individual. Israeli authorities ruled Ms. Corrie's death, in which her own reckless actions played a major role, as accidental. Electronic Intifada and the International Solidarity Movement themselves admit that Ms. Corrie placed herself in front of the bulldozer; they blame the driver (who may well have been unable to see her) for not stopping. The statement that the driver "murdered her" is certainly not "educational."

     http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article1259.shtml

    Of broken bodies and unbreakable laws
    Laurie King-Irani, The Electronic Intifada, 19 March 2003

     Last weekend, though, the murder of a civilian by the IDF in the Occupied Gaza Strip dominated international news headlines, evoking sorrow and outrage throughout the world. The victim in this case was a bright, eloquent, and courageous 23-year-old American activist, Rachel Corrie, a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington who had been serving as an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) observer in Gaza since January.

    Rachel's murder last Sunday was not the first time she experienced IDF hostility. Despite constant dangers and recurring nightmares of menacing tanks and bulldozers, which she chillingly conveyed in e-mail letters to her mother, Rachel never got cold feet or ran away.

     http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article1293.shtml

    Rachel
    Ghassan Andoni, The Electronic Intifada, 25 March 2003

    This is the first time in which I could sit behind the computer and write about the tragic murder of Rachel.


    Attempts to influence legislation (re: the organization's 2003 Form 990 tax return, when filed)
    http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article1673.shtml "Ask your Representative to co-sponsor HR 111 and ask why simply investigating the killing of an American citizen is not a priority for a shocking 90 percent of the US House of Representatives."

    The 2001 Form 990 says that the group made NO efforts to influence legislation (Part III, statements about activities). This statement is not accurate for 2003 and we will need to pay close attention to their filing for this year.

    UPDATE: 20 MARCH 2005
    Here are the relevant excerpts from the Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society's Form 990 for the year 2003. In fairness to this organization, they DO indicate their support of Electronic Intifada in this tax return-- although perhaps they didn't want to spell out "Electronic Intifada" in their report to the IRS.

    However, they fail to report EI's efforts to influence legislation as shown above and reiterated below.

    However, this was online at Electronic Intifada in 2003 (the page has since been taken down).
    http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article1673.shtml "Ask your Representative to co-sponsor HR 111 and ask why simply investigating the killing of an American citizen is not a priority for a shocking 90 percent of the US House of Representatives."

    Update: 2 February 2006
    Electronic Intifada's 2004 tax return reports a $46K expenditure for Electronic Intifada. However, the organization still reports that it has made no effort to influence legislation.




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