Anti-abortion group loses tax status

Associated Press/September 15, 2006

Washington -- The Internal Revenue Service has revoked the tax-exempt status of the anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue West for prohibited political activity during the 2004 election.

President Troy Newman said the Wichita, Kan., group, now known as Operation Rescue, relinquished its charitable status and reorganized more than a year ago.

"We gave it back. We didn't fight any sort of deal," he said.

The laws that permit some organizations to organize as tax-exempt entities also bar them from participating in or intervening in elections, including advocating for or against any candidate.

The IRS revoked the group's tax-exempt status last week, and it was reported Friday by The New York Times.

The tax agency said earlier this year that it found violations in three of four churches, charities and other civic groups suspected of running afoul of restraints on political activity. It did not identify any of those organizations.

Most of those examinations found only a single, isolated incident of prohibited campaign activity. In a few cases, they found flagrant violations of the law.

IRS Commissioner Mark Everson called the amount of political intervention discovered through their examinations "disturbing" for the impact it could have on the integrity of churches and charities.

The examinations looked at only a tiny fraction of the more than 1 million tax-exempt groups organized under section 501(c)(3) of the tax law.

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