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Wed Nov 14, 2012, 12:45 PM

FFRF sues IRS to enforce church electioneering ban

Source: Freedom From Religion Foundation

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is taking the Internal Revenue Service to court over its failure to enforce electioneering restrictions against churches and religious organizations, calling it a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and of FFRF’s equal protection rights. FFRF filed the lawsuit today in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. (View the lawsuit here.)

A widely circulated Bloomberg news article quoted Russell Renwicks, with the IRS’ Tax-Exempt and Government Entities division, saying the IRS has suspended tax audits of churches. Other sources claim the IRS hasn’t been auditing churches since 2009. (See AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll’s story, “IRS Not Enforcing Rules on Churches and Politics.”) Although an IRS spokesman claimed Renwicks “misspoke,” there appears to be no evidence of IRS inquiries or action in the past three years.

As many as 1,500 clergy reportedly violated the electioneering restrictions on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, notes FFRF’s legal complaint. The complaint also references “blatantly political” full-page ads running in the three Sundays leading up to the presidential elections by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.

FFRF, a state/church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., is asking the the federal court to enjoin IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman from continuing “a policy of non-enforcement of the electioneering restrictions against churches and religious organizations.”




Read more: http://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/16091-ffrf-sues-irs-to-enforce-church-electioneering-ban






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Arrow 44 replies Author Time Post
Reply FFRF sues IRS to enforce church electioneering ban (Original post)
Roland99 Nov 2012 OP
SoapBox Nov 2012 #1
Coyotl Nov 2012 #17
MynameisBlarney Nov 2012 #2
ProgressiveProfessor Nov 2012 #3
AnotherMcIntosh Nov 2012 #4
freshwest Nov 2012 #22
Shadowflash Nov 2012 #5
leftyohiolib Nov 2012 #6
Roland99 Nov 2012 #10
leftyohiolib Nov 2012 #13
Bandit Nov 2012 #37
slackmaster Nov 2012 #7
Major Nikon Nov 2012 #18
slackmaster Nov 2012 #24
Major Nikon Nov 2012 #25
slackmaster Nov 2012 #34
MH1 Nov 2012 #39
uwep Nov 2012 #8
freshwest Nov 2012 #23
no_hypocrisy Nov 2012 #9
dlwickham Nov 2012 #11
Pachamama Nov 2012 #12
yends21012 Nov 2012 #14
slackmaster Nov 2012 #16
cosmicone Nov 2012 #15
trayfoot Nov 2012 #19
meeshrox Nov 2012 #28
MH1 Nov 2012 #40
Bigmack Nov 2012 #20
madrchsod Nov 2012 #36
libodem Nov 2012 #21
Dustlawyer Nov 2012 #26
wordpix Nov 2012 #43
Bernardo de La Paz Nov 2012 #27
emsimon33 Nov 2012 #29
montanto Nov 2012 #30
LibertyLover Nov 2012 #31
Scruffy Rumbler Nov 2012 #32
toby jo Nov 2012 #33
madrchsod Nov 2012 #35
pitbullgirl1965 Nov 2012 #38
Roland99 Nov 2012 #41
wordpix Nov 2012 #44
wordpix Nov 2012 #42

Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 12:54 PM

1. I love it!

Do it!

FYI,

http://ffrf.org/

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Response to SoapBox (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 02:05 PM

17. Calling all undercover videographers, please gather evidence and submit it to the IRS

When they are faced with real evidence, they can't escape it.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 12:55 PM

2. 'Bout damn time!

I hope it works.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 12:59 PM

3. Be interesting to see how far this gets

It will end up hitting more black churches than right wing ones...

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:04 PM

4. Why is a "policy of non-enforcement" applicable to war criminals, banksters, and church charlatans?

 

Are they all Republicans?

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #4)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 02:36 PM

22. Because they have hundreds of thousands of employees, if not millions, who vote.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:09 PM

5. Good.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:10 PM

6. they should probably wait. i think they (the partisan pastors) are trying to get such a lawsuit

going in order to test this. this will probably go in front of the scotus and how do think they'll rule.
if you look at the 1st amendment there is no wall between church and state here it is

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

this says that the gvrmnt cant laws that create a religion nor can they create laws to stop a religion

it says nothing about taxes and taxing churches

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #6)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:31 PM

10. The power to tax is the power to control (by the government), in essence

but, if the church is trying to control the government via supporting particular candidates or parties, then the government has a vested interest in the equation, therefore, taxation would be proper, no?

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Response to Roland99 (Reply #10)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:38 PM

13. taxing the church is proper - the should be rendering unto cesear ... the concern is that there will

be less for the people who are served by the church. but churches should be taxed, all of them.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #6)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 07:24 PM

37. There is nothing about not taxing them either I guess..

I think more research is needed because there is definitely a law about taxing Churches.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:14 PM

7. Why just churches and religious organizations?

 

Other types of non-profits do exactly the same thing. The problem is widespread.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #7)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 02:15 PM

18. Some non-profits most certainly do get taxed

Just because you are a non-profit organization, doesn't mean you don't get taxed. If you read section 501 of the tax code, very few other types of organizations enjoy the same blanket exception that churches receive. For other types of organizations, there are specific requirements regarding what can be done with the money generated by the non-profit. With churches, people like Kenneth Copeland get exemptions for practically all his profits and expenses, to including jets, his airport, and his lakefront estate.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #18)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 02:47 PM

24. I'm referring to 501(c)(3) organizations that violate the conditions of their tax-exempt status

 

HTH

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #24)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 02:58 PM

25. I know of no other 501(c)(3)s that are doing this

That's not to say there aren't any, but I'd question the extent to which this is occurring and if they are getting away with it the way churches are.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #25)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 06:13 PM

34. I managed a campaign in a local election in 2008. I saw that happen repeatedly.

 

In some cases by churches, in others by non-religious organizations.

My point is that going after the churches for violating conditions of their tax-exempt status is fine, but the problem is not confined to churches and religious organizations. It's rampant. I saw it done by a major "community development corporation" here in San Diego, and by a few others that might surprise you if I mentioned their names. I was able to get a public apology from one.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #34)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 09:58 PM

39. A lot of 501c3 orgs have corresponding "political" organizations.

And vice versa. If you read the fine print on their donation form they will tell you whether your contribution is tax-deductible or not. If tax-deductible, it's going to the 501c3. If it says not tax-deductible, it's not a 501c3 organization. But sometimes on the same form there will be an option to donate to the corresponding organization in the other bucket.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:16 PM

8. Christanity attempting to mirror Islam

Are we becoming similar to the Islamic nations? Creating religious laws as secular laws? Do these wonderful Christian values religious preachers, priests, leaders not understand the intolerance that is inherent in their religious values? Isn't this what the idea of separation of church and state means? Who's right as far as Christian values goes? Catholics? Evangelicals? Baptists? Lutherans? Mormons? Do we outlaw those who do not believe that Jesus Christ was the son of GOD? Because they will never get to Heaven. Right? The simple fact is keep RELIGION OUT OF Government! Religion should be a personal affair with GOD. Jesus was the biggest liberal on the planet. He did not discriminated because of a person's social, moral, life style, financial, gender or religious values He ministered to all. Our Evangelical, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Mormon leaders need to practice true religious values and stay out of secular issues. "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's and give unto God what is God's" simple but effective.

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Response to uwep (Reply #8)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 02:37 PM

23. +1,000

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:21 PM

9. Go Annie Laurie and Dan!!!

Woo Hoo!

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:34 PM

11. good

make them enforce this law

it's been on the books for like 50 years or so and so far no one has found it to be unconstitutional so use it

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:38 PM

12. About effing time!!!!

Kick

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:39 PM

14. Perhaps rather than giving an organization a blanket exemption...

...they should fill out a tax form like every other organization and prove their activities as being tax exempt, tax deductible, or taxable. Then the taxation (or exemption) is on what they do instead of on who they are.

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Response to yends21012 (Reply #14)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:44 PM

16. Often the political activities that organizations engage in have no tax consequences or visibility

 

For example, suppose your local Dressage Horse Owners' Community Center holds a forum for candidates for your city's mayor. It's a non-partisan office, but the Center invites only the Republican candidates to speak. The Democratic candidates find out about the event after it happened.

The event was free to the audience and the organization neither profited from it nor spent any money other than for their utilities, which they would have paid for if the event had never happened.

All you can do is complain to the IRS that the group violated the conditions of its tax-exempt status, and if you do nothing will happen.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:43 PM

15. Wouldn't this also affect "souls to the polls?" n/t

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Response to cosmicone (Reply #15)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 02:21 PM

19. You beat me to it!

This action will cut BOTH ways! I'm not saying I'm against it,but it does behoove people to THINK about the ramifications.

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Response to cosmicone (Reply #15)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 03:11 PM

28. Souls to the Polls doesn't advocate for a particular candidate

It provides transportation to voters after church for convenience. It's non-partisan although Dems benefit. That's not the same thing, though.

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Response to cosmicone (Reply #15)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 10:01 PM

40. If they don't advocate for specific candidates and just assist people to vote,

it would not affect it.

I'm pretty sure some of the churches that do "souls to the polls" also advocate for candidates, if not blatantly, at least in ways that make it clear. But I could be wrong. And, they could amend that behavior and still help push people to the polls. And that would be the right thing to do.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 02:23 PM

20. How about this.... ? We don't tax the churches....

... we just tax all the NON-church properties and businesses they own.

The Mormons, Catholics, and the Moonies, for example, own billions of bucks worth of businesses of all kinds.

"In 1997, Time Magazine found that current LDS assets totaled $30 billion. If LDS were a corporation, Time continued, its estimated $5.9 billion in annual revenues would have placed it midway through the Fortune 500."

"In 2006, the Boston Globe revealed that the church turned a profit of roughly $55 million on a portfolio heavily concentrated in government bonds."

"In fiscal year 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran church claims to have earned $1,698,336 from “investment income”, $2,238,629 from “bequests and trusts” and another $1,003,420 in rental income. The same report lists a separate column of “temporarily restricted” revenues, on which another $1,625,000 in investment income is reported."

http://www.mint.com/blog/investing/how-churches-invest-05172010/

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Response to Bigmack (Reply #20)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 06:44 PM

36. good idea

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 02:23 PM

21. YES

Yes! Yes!

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 02:59 PM

26. What about Superpacs that are supposed to have as their PRIMARY PURPOSE

social welfare instead of political ads!

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Response to Dustlawyer (Reply #26)

Thu Nov 15, 2012, 08:40 AM

43. +100000

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 03:01 PM

27. REACT

REACT = Republigelicals for Establishing American Christian Theocracy


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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 03:12 PM

29. Finally!

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 03:25 PM

30. great news!!

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 03:30 PM

31. About time

Now I wish I had taken a photo of the message board at the megachurch I pass going to work. During the run-up to Election Day, they had a "Vote No on Question 6. Don't redefine marriage." message on it 24/7. But I didn't bother since I knew the IRS wasn't enforcing the rules on churches.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 03:45 PM

32. About friggin time!

And go back to cover all the years for which they have evidence.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 03:48 PM

33. FFRF was involved in the Ohio Valley recently

they threatened to take the City of Steubenville to court because the city has a flag with a logo on it which included a cross. The cross was a reference to a local Jesuit college. The city argues that it is a business association, the FFRF argues it crosses the freedom from religion line.

The city had multiple offers from local attorneys to defend it from suit. They felt is was a good test case for the SCOTUS regarding separation issues. (The county voted blue, but the paper is right wing nutty as hell).

Last I heard no action was taken either side.

I gotta join this group, I like em.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 06:43 PM

35. about time...

keep religion out of government and keep government out of my religion.

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 08:03 PM

38. Property Taxes

I would love, love, love for the churches, esp. the Catholic church to pay property taxes. They use services like anyone else. I resent having to support them.

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Response to pitbullgirl1965 (Reply #38)

Thu Nov 15, 2012, 08:10 AM

41. At the *VERY* least, that should not be an exemption

imho

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Response to pitbullgirl1965 (Reply #38)

Thu Nov 15, 2012, 08:43 AM

44. agree- I know for a fact DC Catholic churches made a point of bashing Obama over the contraception/

insurance issue, telling congregations he was taking over their right to worship as they please.

If that wasn't a load of crap I don't know what is

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Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Thu Nov 15, 2012, 08:40 AM

42. another group should sue IRS over not enforcing restrictions on "nonprofit" groups like Norquist's

This is good news

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