Professor Supports IRS Plan To Tax Discriminatory Schools

Bernard Wolfman, Fessender Professor of Law, testified on Tuesday in favor of proposed tax guidelines that would revoke the tax-exempt status of schools judged to be racially discriminatory.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines would call for a review of schools that have a minority enrollment that is less than 20 per cent of the surrounding community's school-age minority population, and whose enrollment expanded significantly when the community's public schools desegregated.

If deemed discriminatory, schools would lose their tax-exempt status.

Wolfman, in testimony submitted to IRS Commissioner Jerome Kurtz, supported the new guidelines because they would help bring about integration of private schools and give minorities "long-promised equal protection of the laws which is not yet a reality for racial minorities."

The IRS proposal has prompted an unprecedented response of over 120,000 letters, most of which are opposed to the guidelines, said Pamela Merton, legislative assistant to Sen. Strom Thurmond (R.S.C.), who opposes the guidelines.


Many representatives of religious institutions have testified before the IRS, claiming they will not be able to meet the racial quotas because of the lack of minorities who share their faith.

"Lots of 'white-flight' schools were formed at times of desegregation. They claimed to be religious institutions," Wolfson said.

In his statement, Wolfson proposed that religious schools whose religious instruction permeates much of the curriculum, and who have trouble finding racial minorities because of the nature of the curriculum, could avoid review by showing good faith. Such gestures would include the hiring of minority teachers to teach secular parts of the curriculum, he added.

Wolfson stated that the proposal would only apply to secondary schools, but Stephen B. Burbank, legal council to the University of Pennsylvania, said the guidelines also mention colleges as possible candidates for IRS action.

The hearings will end on Friday, and the IRS will announce a decision in the near future. Merton said