Legal group: IRS harassment of pro-life group persists

Monday, August 5, 2013
Charlie Butts (

Thomas More Society says it has “irrefutable evidence” the IRS is continuing to harass pro-life groups that are applying for tax-exempt status.

When the IRS/tea party scandal became public in May, Thomas More Society revealed that agents with the Internal Revenue Service were holding up applications of pro-life organizations. Society vice president and senior counsel Attorney Peter Breen explains that the federal agency persists in asking politically-oriented questions totally unrelated to 501(c)(3) status.

Breen, Peter (Thomas More Society)“Despite claims to the contrary, the IRS continues to target and harass pro-life and conservative charities, illegally questioning their religious activities and withholding their tax exemptions,” he says. “Even to the present day there are continued questions about prayer and our [clients’] prayer presence outside of abortion facilities. All of this is unconstitutional, and it's all illegal.”

In fact, one pro-life organization was told that to obtain tax-exempt status it would have to commit to stop praying and demonstrating at abortion clinics. In previous cases when Thomas More Society has intervened, the problem has been straightened out.

“It's like dealing with a bully,” explains the attorney. “When you're on the playground with a bully, you have to stand up to them – and your average, small non-profit doesn't have the resources or the legal skill to stand up to a trained IRS specialist. We do.”

Three of the groups being represented by Thomas More Society saw their applications for tax-exempt status delayed 13 to 16 months. Two of those situations have been resolved; a third involving Emerald Coast Coalition for Life remains in limbo.

Breen notes that Congress has oversight over the IRS, and there apparently is a continuing need to bring about structural changes and hold the agency to account "for their unconstitutional and illegal actions."

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