Defending the Revocation of the Tax-Exempt Status of Certain Private Schools in Light of the Ashbrook Amendment


The Ashbrook amendment’s limitation on the expenditure of appropriated funds by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on actions that would cause the revocation of a school’s tax-exempt status applies only prospectively, and revocation notices issued prior to its effective date thus remain valid.

A bar on the expenditure of appropriations which does not amend underlying substantive law will not lightly be interpreted to prohibit the Executive from appearing in court to defend legally authorized actions previously taken.

Neither the plain language nor the legislative history of the Ashbrook amendment suggests a congressional intent to bar IRS from defending its valid revocation notices in a court proceeding, though the manner in which IRS defends its revocation notices may be relevant to whether it is complying with the spirit as well as the letter of the Ashbrook amendment.

Updated July 9, 2014