IRS caught on tape: Keep faith to yourself


IRS caught on tape: Keep faith to yourself
Alliance Defending Freedom

WASHINGTON — Alliance Defending Freedom made public Monday audio of a phone conversation that the Internal Revenue Service placed to a non-profit organization that provides support to women in abusive pregnancy situations. In the recorded phone conversation, an IRS agent lectures the president of the organization about forcing its religion and beliefs on others and inaccurately explains that the group must remain neutral on issues such as abortion.

The IRS grants tax exemptions to religious, educational, and/or charitable organizations. In January 2011, Pro-Life Revolution, which operates from Texas under all three purposes, filed an application for tax-exempt status with the IRS.

Four months later, the IRS sent a letter requesting “more information” and an explanation of how the organization’s activities are educational or charitable even though IRS rules specify that an organization need only operate for “one or more” of the three exempt purposes. President of Pro-Life Revolution Ania Joseph nonetheless replied and answered the IRS’s questions.

In March 2012, Joseph received a call from IRS Exempt Organization Specialist Sherry Wan, who told her that, in order to obtain a tax exemption, “You cannot force your religion or force your beliefs on somebody else…. You have to know your boundaries. You have to know your limits. You have to respect other people’s beliefs.” The IRS has approved applications for tax exemption for pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood and Life and Liberty for Women.

I have been wondering whether any of the targeted groups managed to acquire evidence such as this, a telecon where the IRS operative might be less guarded and more blatant. I wonder if this will be the only such shoe to drop. Why the organization thought of recording the telecon is an interesting question. Obviously the very action demonstrates serious distrust! One clue might be the over-reaching questionnaire received 4 months after the initial application. Another might be the 14 month delay between the application and the phone call. Additionally, given the date of the telecon, by 2012 the IRS’ targeting and harassment of Pro-Life groups probably had become well known among such groups.

What are the odds that PP received a phone call from the IRS informing them that they have to be neutral regarding abortion? Similarly, what are the odds that United Methodist Church or United Church of Christ humanitarian charities received IRS phone calls telling them they had to keep their faith to themselves in their work?