Following allegations that the Coalition for Life of Iowa’s approval as a tax exempt organization was being withheld by officials who wanted the group to refrain from protesting at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, the Internal Revenue Service has granted tax exempt status to the pro-life group.
The IRS had reportedly sought “details” about the content of Coalition for Life members’ prayers at a Planned Parenthood facility. The IRS had also demanded that it refrain both from activities that could be construed as protesting or picketing by police and from activities that could be seen as confrontational or harassing by abortion-seeking clients.
The IRS also insisted that “every member of the board of directors of the Coalition 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,” reported the Thomas More Society, the Chicago-based public interest law firm which made the legal challenge on behalf of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based group.
The Thomas More Society characterized the IRS’ questions as “prejudicial” and threatened legal action.
On Tuesday the Thomas More Society received an official “Determination Letter” from the IRS granting tax exempt status to the Coalition for Life of Iowa. The letter confirmed the group is a 501(c)(3) public charity, to which donations are fully tax deductable.
Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, said the action was a “great victory” for the pro-life group and for all non-profits.
“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 commented in a press release. “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.”