May 16, 2013 Print

Pro-Life Organizations Report IRS Harassment, Intimidation

by Bethany Monk

An international association of pro-life pharmacists reported Wednesday that it was subjected to ongoing harassment and intimidation by the IRS. Pharmacists for Life International (PFLI), based in Powell, Ohio, joins the ever-growing list of conservative organizations announcing that they were targets of the agency.

PFLI reported that the IRS continually harassed at least two of its members with costly audits and intimidating letters over a period of months and years. On Friday, the IRS admitted that it was wrong to target groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names.  Since then, other groups — including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse, the Biblical Recorder, and Family Talk Action — have said that they, too, have been targeted.

And now, pro-life organizations are coming forward.

The two PFLI members, who are not yet identified, have generally had clean audits. The IRS, however continued to demand information “often with ugly threats of reprisal, confiscation of money and property and inconvenient arrangements for audit reviews and meetings,” according to PFLI. “At least one time, the harassing audit proved to yield a larger refund for one of the two individuals, much to the consternation of the IRS.”

The Thomas More Society (TMS), a nonprofit public interest law firm in Chicago, is also speaking out about the “blatant bias” by the IRS and the “mounting accusations that demonstrate the agency’s abuse of pro-life groups.”

In one case, the IRS withheld the approval of an application for tax exempt status filed by the Coalition for Life of Iowa.

After filing the application, IRS agent “Ms. Richards” told the pro-life group to send a letter to the agency with the entire board’s signatures, according to TMS. The letter had to state that: “…under perjury of the law, they do not picket/protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood.”

Following a series of requests to the agency seeking more information, TMS Special Counsel Sally Wagenmaker sent a letter demanding the tax exempt status be issued immediately. The IRS eventually granted it.

In another similar case, the IRS withheld the approval of an application filed by the Christian Voices for Life (CVL). The charitable organization in Fort Bend County, Texas, also received repeated and lengthy “unconstitutional” requests for information, according to TMS. The agency sought information about CVL’s involvement with “40 Days for Life” and “Life Chain” events. This group was eventually granted its nonprofit status.

The agency needs to take responsibility for its actions, Wagenmaker said.

“It’s high time that the IRS be called to account for its workers’ potential to trample on our constitutional rights, through such ostensibly innocuous means.”

Read the letter TMS wrote to the IRS on behalf of Christian Voices for Life.

Read “IRS scandal needs more than a scapegoat,” by Rand Paul.

Read “IRS Audits Billy Graham.”