Press Release

PRESS RELEASE 10/3/15: For Immediate Release

IRS Attacks Faith Based Civil Rights Group for Humanitarian Work with Cuba

PRESS CONTACTS:
EMILY THOMAS: (347) 262-6466 /(212) 926-5757 / ifco@ifconews.org
JENNIFER WAGER: jwa1970@gmail.com

The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) has just learned that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) plans to revoke the group’s non-profit tax exempt status because of its humanitarian work in Cuba and other countries.

More than four years after the Internal Revenue Service initiated efforts to strip the IFCO of its status as a non-profit organization, we have learned that the IRS Appeals Office plans to uphold the revenue agent’s recommendation to revoke our 501(c)3 status.  Agents close to the Appeals process have cited IFCO’s humanitarian aid to Cuba as well as IFCO’s fiscal sponsorship of a humanitarian flotilla that delivered aid to the people of Palestine as reasons for stripping IFCO of its 501(c)3 status.

“The attack by the U.S. government to rescind our non-profit status is shocking and makes no sense in light of the significant moves of both the Obama and Castro administrations to normalize relations between our two countries. It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. government to renew its attack on IFCO on the heels of the historic visit of Pope Francis who pleaded for the nations of the world to work together on behalf of the human family,” said Gail Walker, Executive Director of IFCO.

IFCO is one of the nation’s oldest, faith-based civil rights organizations and the first ecumenical foundation founded by and for people of color.  IFCO administers the Latin American Medical School scholarship program which brings US students to Cuba to study medicine for free.  More than 25,000 students from around the world have graduated from the Cuban medical school, including 134 from the US.  Since 1992, IFCO has also organized 26 humanitarian aid caravans to Cuba without seeking a license from the US Department of Treasury.  

IFCO is calling on supporters to contact the IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen and US Department of Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, as well as members of Congress to demand that the IRS drop its attack on one of the most beloved humanitarian groups working with Cuba today.

“We need our friends in Congress, the American public and especially the diverse faith communities that we represent to tell the IRS to stop bullying IFCO and allow us to continue our life-saving humanitarian work.  Our faith and conscience calls us to do this work and we should not be punished for helping the people of Cuba,” concluded Walker.

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