Saturday, August 22, 2009
Back in July, Darryll Jones blogged about the troubles the Thomas More Society was having getting 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, apparently because it disclosed plans to protest a local Planned Parenthood office. This story reports that the IRS has since dropped its objections to exemption for the group. As Darryll reported earlier, this is clearly the correct result; there is no prohibition in the Internal Revenue Code or elsewhere against an exempt organization protesting or picketing. Such activity would not generally be considered lobbying under the existing regulations (which require activity directed at lawmakers), and as long as the picketing/protesting is legal, there are no grounds for the IRS to assert a denial of exemption under the illegality/public policy doctrine. This is one of those cases where some lower-level reviewing agent went crazy, and fortunately the IRS upper management now appears to have corrected the problem.