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Mon Dec 24, 2012, 09:02 PM

American Atheists files suit against IRS

“Religious organizations and churches are treated differently from secular organizations,” explained American Atheists National Legal Director Edwin Kagin. “The exemptions are applied in a way that discriminates solely on the basis of whether an entity’s members express beliefs and practices accepted as religious. The IRS treats your organization better if you profess belief in a supernatural deity.”

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply American Atheists files suit against IRS (Original post)
yortsed snacilbuper Dec 2012 OP
ProfessorGAC Dec 2012 #1
IDoMath Dec 2012 #2
quaker bill Dec 2012 #4
IDoMath Dec 2012 #5
quaker bill Dec 2012 #10
MotherPetrie Dec 2012 #3
IDoMath Dec 2012 #6
MotherPetrie Dec 2012 #11
IDoMath Dec 2012 #15
yortsed snacilbuper Dec 2012 #7
Zax2me Dec 2012 #8
Demo_Chris Dec 2012 #9
Mariana Dec 2012 #17
Mariana Dec 2012 #13
Initech Dec 2012 #12
backscatter712 Dec 2012 #14
Initech Dec 2012 #16
yortsed snacilbuper Dec 2012 #18
Initech Dec 2012 #19
yortsed snacilbuper Dec 2012 #20
Initech Dec 2012 #21
MindPilot Dec 2012 #23
yortsed snacilbuper Dec 2012 #22

Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 09:03 PM

1. Interesting Screenname

I like it. Thanks for posting what you did, as well.
GAC

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 09:16 PM

2. They better have a good body of evidence

 

I think this will be tricky. 501(c)(3) specifically designates religious, philosophical, educational and charitable organizations as allowed. Almost all religious organization can fall back to one of the other categories. They will have to show that the religious bar is lower than the other bars and that will require a ton of data.

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Response to IDoMath (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 10:00 PM

4. A non-profit is a non-profit

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Response to quaker bill (Reply #4)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:24 AM

5. Exactly. So how do they prove discrimination?

 

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Response to IDoMath (Reply #5)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 06:32 AM

10. Some churches do push the envelope

and they might get by with stuff secular non-profits could be challenged on. I don't know of any such cases, but they might exist. Churches are occasionally challenged by IRS. The Quaker Meeting I belong to has had to answer tough questions from the IRS during the Reagan and GW Bush* admins. (I don't think either admin liked our anti-war stuff).

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 09:57 PM

3. K&R! I'm so glad they did this. I am SICK of subsidizing other people's belief systems.

 

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Response to MotherPetrie (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:31 AM

6. Thank you for subsidizing mine

 

I believe in taking care of the environment. Thank you for subsidizing the many environmental charities out there.

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Response to IDoMath (Reply #6)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 09:28 PM

11. I'm talking about RELIGIOUS belief systems, obviously.

 

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Response to MotherPetrie (Reply #11)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 10:40 PM

15. I am Druid

 

And therefore I support environmental projects.

More to the point though, the IRS defines 501(c)(3)s as religious, educational, philosophical or charitable.

Any religion can fall back on one of the others. I do what I do for spiritual reasons. If you are going to "tax churches" as I keep hearing it put, I don't see how you can do so without hurting other charities.

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 02:11 AM

7. Exemptions for Churches Only

23. Churches are able to take advantage of the “parsonage exemption” or “parish
exemption,” allowing them to deduct housing costs for “licensed, commissioned, or
ordained” ministers. Also, churches need not withhold income tax from compensation to
“licensed, commissioned, or ordained” ministers.

24. There is no limit on the size of the parsonage allowance each church may deduct or
the amount of cash a church may give a religious leader to use for housing costs.

25. This carte blanche allowance is not grounded in any rational logic or reason. For
example, upon information and belief, quite a few church leaders, particularly those of socalled mega-churches, live in lavish homes, quite a few have multiple homes, and quite a
few are given cash outlays to expend on housing costs that they do not, in fact, so spend.

26. Upon information and belief, clergy each year, with very limited IRS oversight over
the movement of large sums of cash, cost the government as much as $1.2 billion in tax
exemptions via the parsonage allowance alone (and perhaps more, once cash outlays not
actually used for housing costs are considered).

27. Religious organizations and churches also may elect to be exempt from employer
Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA).

28. In contrast, non-religious entities may not take any deductions for the housing or
living expenses of their employees or volunteers. Nor may they elect to be exempt from
employer Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA). Nor may they elect not to withhold
income tax from the compensation to their employees.

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 04:48 AM

8. Sounds a little 'whiny' to me.

 

I've heard atheists scream on and on that they are not a religion.
Well, DUH.

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Response to Zax2me (Reply #8)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 05:39 AM

9. Respectfully...

 

I believe that their goal is to eliminate these tax exemptions churches enjoy -- not get these tax exemptions for themselves. And I am okay with this.

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Response to Demo_Chris (Reply #9)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 12:20 AM

17. The goal is for all non-profits to be held to the same standard

and to have to follow the same rules and procedures to in order to get and maintain their tax-exempt status. As it is now, the secular organizations have more rigorous application and renewal processes, and have to pay more fees than the religous groups do. The lawsuit seeks to end that discrimination.

There are people who want to tax the churches, but this particular lawsuit is not about that at all.

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Response to Zax2me (Reply #8)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 09:51 PM

13. There are other plaintiffs in this lawsuit

in addition to American Atheists. From the article:

In this lawsuit, American Atheists and the other plaintiffs are demanding that all tax-exempt organizations, including those characterized as religious by the IRS, have the same requirements to achieve tax-exempt status.

Are you against ending this discrimination against secular non-profit organizations?

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 09:37 PM

12. This is exactly what that little stunt was designed to do a few months back.

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/05/pastors-prepare-to-take-on-irs-over-political-endorsement-ban/


Pastors prepare to take on IRS over political endorsement ban

By Dan Merica, CNN

When Ron Johnson takes take his pulpit on Sunday, he will willfully break the law. After presenting his views on President Barack Obama’s handling of religious issues –- like abortion, gay marriage, and religious freedom - Johnson will ask his congregation a question.

“In light of what I have presented,” Johnson says he will say, “How can you go into that election booth and vote for Barack Obama as president of the United States?”

What Johnson plans to do is in violation of the IRS’ so-called Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that has made it illegal for churches that receive tax exempt status from the federal government to intervene in “any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”


They are trying to do this because they want the Supreme Court to give them a free pass to say and do whatever they want without penalty. The best thing we can do is ignore them right now.

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Response to Initech (Reply #12)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 10:02 PM

14. Bingo. Fundie preachers are telling their congregations they'll go to hell for voting Democratic.

Since the founding of this country, we've had an understanding. The government stays out of religion, and religious organizations stay out of politics. That protects both of them.

Now we have religious organizations with overt political agendas, aggressively pushing for things like banning abortion, repressing the rights of GLBT individuals, demanding forced prayer in public schools, teaching of creationist fairy tales...

If they're going to play that game, then they need to lose their tax exemptions and pay what every other political advocacy organization pays to the IRS.

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Response to backscatter712 (Reply #14)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 12:08 AM

16. Yup they are the exact opposite of what Jesus would do.

What's sickening is that there are churches all over the country that rake in billions of dollars and they pay zero of it in taxes. Yet they use that money in just disgustingly evil ways. The mere fact that this is a church:



Is quite scary. And what's even worse is that article I linked to - these bigoted, stupid pastors are trying to intentionally provoke the IRS so they can take it to the Supreme Court and get it declared a free speech issue. The court of course would overturn it and essentially give them a free pass to say and do whatever they wanted. This is scary.

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Response to Initech (Reply #16)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 12:33 PM

18. What the heck is this for and where's it at?

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Reply #18)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 01:55 PM

19. It's the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.

They operate out of the old arena that the Houston Rockets used to play in. Joel Osteen (the "god wants you to be rich" guy ) is the head pastor.

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Response to Initech (Reply #19)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 08:05 PM

20. I wonder how much old Joel charges for admission.

because that place looks like the upkeep would be expensive?

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Reply #20)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 08:17 PM

21. Good question, I don't know the answer to that.

I guess he should change his motto from "God wants you to be rich" to "I want to be rich!".

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Response to Initech (Reply #16)

Thu Dec 27, 2012, 03:30 PM

23. The fact that there are enough gullible morons to fill that place up is what's really scary.

really, really scary

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2012, 03:22 PM

22. When I was a kid,the holy rollers would come to town and put up a big tent,


This looks like over kill!

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