IRS Holds Tax Status Over Pro-Life Iowa Group That Opposes Planned Parenthood
by Steven Ertelt
July 7, 2009
Des Moines, IA (LifeNews.com) — The Internal Revenue Service is targeting a pro-life Iowa group that acts in part as a watchdog over the Planned Parenthood abortion business. It is refusing to grant nonprofit tax status to the Coalition for Life of Iowa unless it agreed to limit its "picketing" and "protesting" of Planned Parenthood.
In papers to the group, the IRS questioned the "educational" nature of the Coalition’s materials, prayer meetings, talks and other pro-life activities.
Responding to what it considered threats, attorneys with the Thomas More Society in Chicago are coming to the defense of the pro-life Iowa group.
In their response, TMS attorneys told the IRS that it is in danger of violating the First Amendment and that the request for tax exemption should be promptly granted.
Thomas Brejcha, president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Society, told LifeNews.com that the repeated questioning of the Coalition suggests the IRS may be denying or delaying tax-exempt status to an eligible organization based solely upon its religious affiliation and speech.
"The IRS not only erroneously forbade the Coalition for Life of Iowa from engaging in ‘advocacy’ as a section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; they also never gave any explanation as to why their request was relevant," he said.
He told LifeNews.com: "The Coalition has clearly and truthfully stated that all its activities fall in line with IRS guidelines. The IRS is protecting Parenthood and harassing the Coalition for Life of Iowa."
Thomas More attorneys verified in their response to the IRS that the Coalition for Life of Iowa has never engaged in any disruptive, violent or threatening action. Its activities, such as prayer meetings and events held to educate the public about sanctity of life issues, have been peaceful.
As nearly all of its funds go toward education and the "advancement of religious beliefs," which falls under the definition of "charitable" under section 501(c)(3), the Coalition should thus be clearly eligible for immediate tax-exempt status from the IRS, TMS maintains.
"By their own regulations, the IRS must take up a position of with respect to the beliefs advocated by an organization," Brejcha concluded. "If the IRS can discriminate against one non-profit based on its beliefs and religious affiliation, then the IRS could regulate the speech of any other non-profit organization."
Related web sites:
Thomas More Society – https://www.thomasmoresociety.org
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