The Justice Department announced Thursday that it entered into the final settlement in the IRS targeting scandal.
The scandal mostly involved Tea Party-aligned groups that claimed they were subjected to additional scrutiny in applications for tax-exempt status, tied to “inappropriate criteria” including names and policy positions.
Thursday’s settlement, though, was with a pro-Israel nonprofit called Z Street. The group claimed that the IRS applied “heightened scrutiny” to applications for their tax-exempt status connected “in any way to Israel.”
“Tax exemption eligibility should be based on whether an organization’s activities fulfill requirements of the law, not a group’s policy positions or the name chosen to reflect those views,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s tax division Richard Zuckerman said in a statement.
“The attorneys at the Department of Justice work hard to ensure that all Americans receive equal treatment under the law,” Zuckerman said. “Today’s settlement further illustrates this commitment.”
According to court documents, the IRS expressed its “sincere apology.”
Z Street is not considered a Tea Party group, but rather an educational, pro-Israel organization. The group had applied for tax-exempt status in 2009.
The settlement with Z Street comes just weeks after the Justice Department entered into a settlement with a Tea Party-aligned group True the Vote over the same type of claims that it was unfairly targeted by the IRS under the Obama administration.
In October 2017, the Justice Department entered settlements with other Tea Party organizations to pay the claims of each of the groups in the case — more than 400 in all.
The targeting scandal drew heavy attention in 2013 after the IRS admitted it applied extra scrutiny to conservative groups applying for nonprofit status. Lois Lerner, then-head of the Exempt Organizations unit responsible, became the public face of the scandal, though many other IRS officials were also involved.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that the IRS’s past practice was “inappropriate” and “wrong.”
“It is improper for the IRS to single out groups for different treatment based on their names or ideological positions,” Sessions said in October.