IRS Backs Down, Approves New NonProfit Tax Status for Iowa Pro-Life Group
by Steven Ertelt
August 5, 2009
Cedar Rapids, IA (LifeNews.com) — The Internal revenue Service has backed down after a legal threat from pro-life advocates following it targeting a pro-life Iowa group that acts in part as a watchdog over the Planned Parenthood abortion business.
The IRS had refused 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. IRS officials had also demanded that every member of the board of directors of the group sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, that they will not picket or protest or organize others to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood.
Responding to what it considered threats, attorneys with the Thomas More Society in Chicago came to the defense of the pro-life group and told LifeNews.com today that the IRS has relented.
Sally Wagenmaker, of the Chicago law firm, Mosher & Associates, assisted the pro-life legal group and wrote the IRS a lengthy letter with legal objections to its inquiries and demands and threatening legal action if the IRS persisted in violating the Coalition’s First Amendment rights.
TMS attorneys received an official "Determination Letter" from the Internal Revenue Service granting tax exempt status to the Coalition for Life of Iowa, which is based in Cedar Rapids.
The IRS quietly advised the Coalition that it would receive its tax exemption, and now the IRS’s official Determination Letter has just arrived, albeit dated as of July 9, 2009.
"This is a great victory for the Coalition for Life of Iowa, and for all non-profit groups," Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, told LifeNews.com. "The IRS must operate within the constraints of law, and it cannot condition the grant of tax exempt status on the forfeiture or surrender of First Amendment rights on the part of any non-profit group or individual American citizens."
Brejcha continued, "We join the Coalition for Life of Iowa in the celebration of its victory and remain prepared to defend advocates for life against government abuse or threats – no matter however, wherever, or whenever they may suffer such abuse or threats."
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 maintained.
Related web sites:
Thomas More Society – https://www.thomasmoresociety.org
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