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Muslim Charities’ IRS Files Are Sought

From Associated Press

The Senate Finance Committee has asked the Internal Revenue Service to turn over confidential tax records related to 25 Muslim charities and organizations for an investigation into the sources of terrorist financing.

In a letter to IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, the committee leaders said they wanted to investigate and oversee the government’s scrutiny of groups that “finance terrorism and perpetuate violence.”

“Many of these groups not only enjoy tax-exempt status, but their reputations as charities and foundations often allow them to escape scrutiny, making it easier to hide and move their funds to other groups and individuals who threaten our national security,” said Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

The committee’s investigation, first reported in the Washington Post, includes requests for the organizations’ tax returns, lists of contributors, applications for tax-exempt status, and all materials from examinations, audits and criminal investigations. Its request to the IRS was made last month.

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Tax laws prohibit the disclosure of confidential tax and financial records in most cases. One exception allows the chairmen of the Finance and Ways and Means committees, which write tax laws and oversee the IRS, to request copies of tax return information.

A spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations questioned the motivation of the study as an effort to “tarnish” the image of Muslims in America.

“It’s really a disturbing development when some of the largest and most respected Muslim organizations in America are treated as if they’re the Mafia, basically,” said spokesman Ibrahim Hooper. “I think this will send a chill through the Muslim community and further alienate American Muslims.”

Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America said his group has nothing to hide.

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