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Republican senators demand IRS probe revoking tax breaks for pro-Hamas campus protest backers

A group of Republican senators is demanding that the IRS investigate a number of nonprofits supporting any pro-Hamas unrest on American campuses to see if their tax-exempt statuses should be revoked.

Headed up by U.S. Sen Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, 16 senators signed their names to a May 9 letter to IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel obtained by Just the News.

“We write to demand you open an investigation to determine if the supporters of the National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP)…have engaged in conduct warranting revocation of their tax-exempt statuses on the basis of their financial support of NSJP,” the senators wrote.

A representative of Sen. Ernst told The College Fix via email that the senator believes “any organization enabling activity that violates the law should lose their tax-exempt status.”

Ernst is “demanding an investigation into the nonprofits that have supported and enabled these antisemitic ‘protests’ at colleges and universities.”

Since Hamas is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, the senators argue that there may be grounds for the supporters of NSJP to have their tax-exempt status stripped. The letter outlined IRS precedent of revoking tax-exempt statuses, such as when nonprofits engage in illegal activity.

Robyn Walker, an IRS media relations officer, told The College Fix that the IRS doesn’t “generally comment on legislative correspondence.”

National Students for Justice in Palestine “seeks to empower, unify, and support student organizers as they push forward demands for Palestinian liberation & self-determination on their campuses,” according to its website.

The group states it believes that “the struggle for a free Palestine is also the struggle for Black liberation, gender and sexual freedom, and a livable and sustainable planet.”

Groups cited as supporters of NSJP by the senators are “the AJP Educational Foundation (AJP), the Tides Foundation, the Westchester Peace Action Committee Foundation (WESPAC Foundation), and other benefactors.”

Ernst’s office told The Fix that “the antisemitism that has popped up on college campuses coast to coast is fundamentally un-American.”

“As we uncover who is behind these acts of violence against Jewish students, it is clear these organizations should not receive any favors from our government to do Iran-backed Hamas’s bidding on our own shores.”

Another signer of the letter, Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, said on his X account: “Any organization or charity helping to facilitate the violent antisemitic, pro-terrorist riots should have to pay the American people back through taxes. End their tax-exempt status NOW!”

Reached for comment, Cassidy’s office referred The Fix to his public comments on the matter.

Professor Eugene Volokh wrote on Reason that nonprofits can lose their tax-exempt status “not because of the viewpoints they express—but yes if they engage in systematic illegal conduct.”

Volokh is a professor at UCLA School of Law and teaches First Amendment law and a First Amendment amicus brief clinic.

“The government can’t strip groups of nonprofit status based on their ideological viewpoints,” Volokh wrote. “But nonprofits’ right to express viewpoints doesn’t extend to a right to violate valid laws.”

Volokh states that “speech remains protected regardless of its viewpoint.” Volokh cites situations such as when the overthrow of the United States government has been advocated by nonprofits and they’ve retained their tax-exempt status.

However, “pervasive illegal conduct planned by the group can lead not just to criminal punishment for members of the group, but to the loss of tax exemption for the group itself,” according to Volokh.

The Fix reached out to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida by email and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas by website contact and phone. Both senators signed the letter to the IRS. No replies have been received.

MORE: Disruptive anti-Israel walkout protests hit Yale, GWU graduation ceremonies


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About the Author
College Fix contributor Tate Miller is a student at Liberty University studying journalism. She is the founder Thatsasnap Productions, a photography business launched in 2018.