IRS attacks Pastors for Peace
After over seven years of harassment and intimidation by the IRS (U.S. Internal Revenue Service), the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO)/ Pastors for Peace has been informed that its status as a non-profit organization will be revoked due to its humanitarian work in Cuba
Author: Cubadebate | firstname.lastname@example.org
august 25, 2016 18:08:34
The IRS is attempting to revoke the IFCO’s non-profit tax exempt status. Photo: Cubadebate
After over seven years of harassment and intimidation by the IRS (U.S. Internal Revenue Service), the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO)/ Pastors for Peace has been informed that its status as a non-profit organization will be revoked due to its humanitarian work in Cuba.
The IRS audit began in 2009 citing the IFCO’s humanitarian aid to Cuba and fiscal sponsorship of a humanitarian flotilla that delivered aid to Palestine. According to a statement published on the organization’s website, “the IRS claimed that our work to bring humanitarian aid and build friendship with the Cuban people was done in violation of the Treasury Department’s ‘Trading with the Enemy Act’.”
The IRS’ decision comes in the context of a process of rapprochement and normalization of relations between Cuba and the U.S., announced on December 17, 2014, by Cuban and U.S. Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama, respectively.
Since 1992, the IFCO, through the Pastors for Peace project, has organized friendship caravans to Cuba, bringing over 4,000 tons of humanitarian aid in the form of school supplies, medicines and 300 buses.
In 2009 alone, when the audit began, the organization had donated eight school buses, two trucks and 100 tons of medical supplies to churches, schools, hospitals and NGOs across the island.
In the same statement the IFCO also noted that “We challenge the ability of the IRS to make this claim…OFAC, fully aware of our annual caravans not accepting government licenses, has never prosecuted us. How is it that IRS now has the right to strip us of our tax-exempt status?”
The IFCO is a multi-issue national ecumenical agency founded in 1967 by progressive church leaders and activists. It has been working for almost five decades to support oppressed peoples around the world and struggles for justice and self-determination. As such it promotes, funds and coordinates domestic and international community development efforts and administers the scholarship program for students from underprivileged communities in the U.S. to study medicine at Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine.