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Fri Nov 16, 2012, 09:41 PM

Atheist group sues over tax code

Source: AP

By SCOTT BAUER
11/16/2012 02:29:23 PM PST

MADISON, Wis. A federal lawsuit filed by a Wisconsin-based group representing atheists and agnostics argues that the Internal Revenue Service is violating the U.S. Constitution by allowing tax-exempt churches and religious organizations to get involved in political campaigns.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation argues that churches and other religious organizations have become increasingly more involved in political campaigns, "blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions."

Its lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Madison argues that the IRS is not enforcing the federal tax code, which prohibits tax-exempt religious organizations from electioneering. Not enforcing it is a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment and a violation of equal protection rights because the same preferential treatment is not provided to other tax-exempt organizations such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the lawsuit contends.

The lawsuit, which was filed against IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, asks that the court order Shulman to initiate enforcement of the electioneering restrictions against churches and religious organizations.

Read more: http://www.montereyherald.com/religion/ci_22012284/atheist-group-sues-over-tax-code



Tax the churches! Wouldn't this be a simple and effective way to make a massive dent in the debt?

49 replies, 6195 views

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Reply Atheist group sues over tax code (Original post)
Turborama Nov 2012 OP
Kelvin Mace Nov 2012 #1
Archae Nov 2012 #2
Turborama Nov 2012 #3
cstanleytech Nov 2012 #5
Scuba Nov 2012 #4
RKP5637 Nov 2012 #6
oberle Nov 2012 #39
RKP5637 Nov 2012 #44
sigmasix Nov 2012 #7
Turborama Nov 2012 #10
sigmasix Nov 2012 #14
YOHABLO Nov 2012 #8
teddy51 Nov 2012 #9
NastyRiffraff Nov 2012 #11
Up2Late Nov 2012 #12
RKP5637 Nov 2012 #45
Brainstormy Nov 2012 #13
ErikJ Nov 2012 #15
sigmasix Nov 2012 #26
RKP5637 Nov 2012 #46
forestpath Nov 2012 #16
SoapBox Nov 2012 #17
defacto7 Nov 2012 #18
fujiyama Nov 2012 #20
sigmasix Nov 2012 #27
CrispyQ Nov 2012 #37
Tigress DEM Nov 2012 #48
loudsue Nov 2012 #19
penndragon69 Nov 2012 #21
ReRe Nov 2012 #22
Tigress DEM Nov 2012 #49
Smithfield Nov 2012 #23
hrmjustin Nov 2012 #24
Turborama Nov 2012 #25
fasttense Nov 2012 #35
BlueMan Votes Nov 2012 #42
Vinca Nov 2012 #28
Great Caesars Ghost Nov 2012 #29
Ilsa Nov 2012 #30
bucolic_frolic Nov 2012 #31
AnotherMcIntosh Nov 2012 #32
CoboWowbo Nov 2012 #33
fasttense Nov 2012 #36
ahostett Nov 2012 #34
The CCC Nov 2012 #38
The CCC Nov 2012 #40
oberle Nov 2012 #41
DavidDvorkin Nov 2012 #43
Fla Dem Nov 2012 #47

Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 09:44 PM

1. About frackin' time!

I am fed up to the nipples with these people skirting the law. You want to get in the voting game, pay your admission fee like the rest of us.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 09:48 PM

2. Skirting the law?

Shit. They've been pissing on the laws and calling it rain.

I say prosecution for tax fraud is in order!

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 09:51 PM

3. "fed up to the nipples"!

I lol'd.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 09:52 PM

5. Seconded. The tax break to the churches is a gift for not getting involved in politics

and not a constitutional right.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 09:51 PM

4. Good.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 09:55 PM

6. Good! I'm fed up with the spew from some religious organizations preaching hatred and

evilness, trying to influence elections, etc., etc., campaigning from the pulpit and then having tax exemption because they use the god word. Some of these religious outfits are nothing more than large corporations operating under the cloak of religion and claiming tax deductions. It's time for the bullshit to stop. Religion has become yet another scam operation in the US.

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #6)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 01:55 PM

39. the worst being....

...Franklin Graham.

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Response to oberle (Reply #39)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 02:56 PM

44. Yep, many have found big bucks can be made off of the faithful. I also recall a number of

people having told me they knew individuals that had become involved with the Family Research Institute, for example, that had become extremely hateful individuals.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:16 PM

7. points well spent

Now this is the sort of thing atheists and secular humanists should be spending goodwill points on. Americans understand and detest unfairness and our national character has been built upon the idea that democratic systems, when healthy, eliminate unfairness like this. Since the Rupert Murdochs and David Koches of the world have been so succesful at destroying important parts of our system, these sorts of abuses of fairness have become commonplace in America. It's about time someone called the agents of chaos (neo-Christian right wing fundamentalist bigots) on thier unAmerican tampering with the electorate. I hope the feds come up with some sort of regulations that will be a dis-insentive for the formation and continued existence of mega-churches and temples. Our future as a country depends on it.

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Response to sigmasix (Reply #7)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:35 PM

10. As I just said in GD




Look forward to seeing you around, I think you'll like it here...

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Response to Turborama (Reply #10)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:59 PM

14. thank you

It's always nice to be welcomed to a new place, especially in such a personable way. I've been lurking here since the election and from what I have seen DU is what America needs. I'm looking forward to future elections with some hope now that I know this site exists.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:17 PM

8. The Supremes Will Gun It Down ..Wanna Bet?

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:19 PM

9. I totally agree with taxing this group! The IRS has stood by while these so called

 

religious factions have been involved in Politics etc.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:36 PM

11. As they say: "Amen"

I live in a suburb of DC. Believe me if churches were taxed DC's budget woes would go away quickly. The Catholic church in particular owns a big chunk of prime real estate in DC.

Religions have gotten a free ride for too long.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:42 PM

12. Good? I hate to say it, but they are starting something that some of these "churches" have been....

...working toward. For about five years, I think, a fairly large group of evangelical preachers have been holding a "Politics in the Pulpit" day, or something like that, to try to get the Fed to take them to court so they could try to challenge the rule against churches openly supporting political candidates, this will probably help them.

But on the other hand, I hope this also include the bogus, unequal and unfair tax break they give married people, just because they are married, which I think should be ruled unconstitutional, because it discriminates against single people in preference to religiously Married people by giving them a tax break.

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Response to Up2Late (Reply #12)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 02:58 PM

45. Exactly!!! And especially your last statement. n/t

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:48 PM

13. Well, hell yes!

Won't get anywhere. But every little chip helps. Every closed mind cracked open a tiny bit helps.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 11:14 PM

15. Even Mr. Conservative would welcome that

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Response to ErikJ (Reply #15)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 03:31 AM

26. didnt reagan?

didnt reagan say something along these lines as well?

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Response to ErikJ (Reply #15)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 03:00 PM

46. +++ 1,000,000 +++ GOP = The American Taliban!

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 11:19 PM

16. I'm with them all the way!

 

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 11:23 PM

17. Bravo!

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 11:25 PM

18. I think it's a little more complicated..

If churches are taxed, it implies they have the right to be involved in government. If they are not taxed, they have absolutely no right to be involved in government either by implication or specifics of the constitution.

We must preserve the separation of church and state. I do not want churches to get away with financial free for all because of their non-taxed status; I want to see them taxed... but not at the cost of government separation.

If we are going after the non-tax status of churches, we still have to uphold the separation, or all hell will eventually break loose. Allowing churches to decide if they want to be political by paying taxes or not, will only mean that the mega-churches will be running amok in government; the small churches won't be able to afford it. This would be another inroad to a theocratic state where large corporate churches could cause civil rights mayhem.

I think it would be more reasonable to leave the non-tax status on churches but fine them to the extreme for breaking the separation clause. Maybe impose jail time to church administrators for being politically active as an organization. If we tax churches, then we need to enforce the separation of church and state emphatically on constitutional grounds as they stand, without allowing political involvement because of taxations implication.

But I strongly fear we will be allowing a monster out of the cage that the founders of this country foresaw and that they experienced in the old world... a state of the church, by the church and for the church.

I say fine them to oblivion, jail time to those who break the constitution... but taxing them would open a huge can of worms.

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Response to defacto7 (Reply #18)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 11:56 PM

20. It's a mess either way

As it is, many churches are preaching politics from the pulpit, whether they'll admit it or not. Even if they were taxed like corporations or other entities, religious institutions would still be subject to all relevant campaign contribution limits. The only difference is the mega churches would likely form PACs or Super PACs. So I see where you're coming from with regards to the influence mega churches would play.

I see no good reason to allow churches and other religious institutions to be tax exempt though. I don't see why our government should allow an institution such status simply for being religious in nature. But I understand what you are saying about opening another can of worms. All churches (and other religious institutions) would have a charitable wing and would have money funneled there. That's where things get tricky. So we'd likely see huge loopholes.

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Response to defacto7 (Reply #18)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 03:44 AM

27. defacto7 has a strong point

I never really thought of it in that way- kudos on an important distinction that could lead to unintended results. Shouldn't there be a way to set up taxation dependent on threshold-size churches? Maybe a taxation mechanizism that would kick in, should the church spend more than x amount of a percentage of their finances towards political and partisan activities? There's an awful lot of money in realestate in some of these mega churches, and they make use of the surrounding comunities' infrastructure and human recources- if they are doing anything other than feeding the poor or assisting the sick- Americans should expect them to pay thier fair way without also granting them control of our political and secular mechanizisms. Why do so many so-called Christians need their government to prop up thier faith? Is their faith that weak, or is thier nationalsim that blind?

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Response to defacto7 (Reply #18)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 01:02 PM

37. Well said, & I agree.

Fines & jail time for breaking the separation clause. No taxing.

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Response to defacto7 (Reply #18)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 05:39 PM

48. AGREE -- FINE them and charge them with breaking the law, even jail time for repeat offenders.

That is the better way to go, because we want to KEEP the seperation of Church and State completely intact and only enforce the law, not revise it and give the rule breakers a way around the law.

Really good point.


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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 11:34 PM

19. Here in rural N.C., the Southern Baptist Republian Church has every single congregation

turning into a bunch of rightwingers. There are a lot of people who are really sick of it. They preach politics from the pulpit.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 12:31 AM

21. Revoke all their tax breaks.

These cults are reaping the benefits of their tax free statues by electioneering, running investment
properties and going corporate.

They need to pay up for 200 years of protection that no other group receives.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 12:31 AM

22. It's time

that churches were taxed. I know that they do preach politics on the pulpit. It all started in the 70s and really ramped up for the Reagan election. Moral Majority/Jerry Falwell, Paul Wyrich (sp?), and a gazillion "preachers" in every little evangelical church from Bangor, Maine to San Diego, CA. 30-40 years of it crammed down the throat of their parishioners. That's about the time I stopped going to church. To me, it's unconstitutional i.e. 'Separation of church and state." And having started a 501c3 non-profit, I know that the number one rule is that you can not, under any circumstance, support a political party. Churches are non-profit orgs, yet they campaign for the right wing whenever election time rolls around. It's law, folks, and they aren't following it. They are breaking the law, and the IRS has let them get away with it long enough. Why are so many laws unenforced in this country????

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Response to ReRe (Reply #22)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 05:43 PM

49. Enforce the law. FINE them, give them jail time if necessary.

The problem is the way the law is now, if they switched to being one of those Super PACs they would have nothing stopping them from what they are doing.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 12:41 AM

23. Constitutional rights first

I live in New York so I don't really see the preachy angle from living in a majority blue state. Though is taxing them is a violation of first amendment rights. In addition, stepping in would involve breaking the separation between church and state because the state would be regulating what is said in church.

Where would the line on taxing end? The thought of taxing or jailing people for their opinions is fascist and goes against the values our great nation is built upon. I wouldn't compromise those values for anything especially a shallow payday.

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Response to Smithfield (Reply #23)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 12:43 AM

24. Welcome to DU!

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Response to Smithfield (Reply #23)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 01:23 AM

25. Are you reacting to the news article or my comment? n/t

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Response to Smithfield (Reply #23)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 10:56 AM

35. They use to be taxed

Churches were not always tax exempt.

"Tax exemptions for religious groups have existed throughout American history and are a legacy of our European heritage. At the same time, those tax exemptions have never been total or automatic. For example, some states have broad tax exemptions for parsonages while others have narrow restrictions on such exemptions. Some states have exempted Bibles from sales taxes while others have not. Some states have exempted church businesses from state corporate taxes while other have not. Private donations to churches have also had varying degrees of tax exemptions, while direct payments to churches for goods or services are rarely exempt from taxes."

http://atheism.about.com/od/churchestaxexemptions/a/whyitmatters.htm

By NOT taxing churches the US is promoting those churches. It is encouraging people to give to those churches and is supporting religion. It is a violation of the constitution of establishing a religion, especially when it does NOT give the same tax exempt status to atheist and all Satanic organizations.

Churches do NOT need to be tax exempt. They frequently provide little to no social benefit and force their outrageous political views on people - such as the Mormon church's hate of black people and the Southern Baptist support of the murderers of doctors and the bombing of clinics.

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Response to Smithfield (Reply #23)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 02:22 PM

42. how exactly is taxing churches a "violation of first amendment rights'...?

 

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 07:05 AM

28. When some "preachers" live in mansions and have private planes,

it's time to tax churches. At some point some of them turned into a profitable scam.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 07:11 AM

29. Tax them high

 

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 07:27 AM

30. If they aren't going to tax them,

Then I sure as hell want them to stay out of our elections. Religious emotional extortion (God will strike us down if my candidate doesn't win) should push them into a taxable status.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 08:29 AM

31. Go, Baby, Go!

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 09:54 AM

32. Misleading headline. It should read: Atheist group sues over NON-ENFORCEMENT of the tax code

 

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 10:35 AM

33. I think that the tax-exempt status of a religious institution should be

proportional to its nondenominational charitable activities. (That means having to file financial documents proving their status.)
In other words, churches should be taxed, but with substantial exemptions & deductions for actual charity work done.

University of Tampa professor Ryan T. Cragun ran some calculations and figured out a number on how much the government would get from taxing churches.** The number came to $71 Billion. To put that into perspective, NASA's 2011 budget was $18 Billion.

** Source: http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=fi&page=cragun_32_4

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Response to CoboWowbo (Reply #33)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 10:59 AM

36. What about their hate work?

Many churches promote the hatred of minorities, GLBT people, abortion doctors and clinics, liberals and socialists. I think if a church promotes hatred they should be double taxed. Otherwise the KKK can call itself a religion and get tax exemption.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 10:35 AM

34. About damn time too

... and I really likes Cobowobo's idea above too. It should be on the church to justify the tax-exempt status, just like it would be for any other taxpayer.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 01:54 PM

38. Atheist group sues over tax code

On what basis could any church be taxed, and not run afoul of the First Amendment? I don't like hateful speech anymore than the next person, but since when do we tax speech?

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 01:57 PM

40. Atheist group sues over tax code

All churches already have to file with the IRS.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 02:01 PM

41. Atheist?

Actually, I'm not sure the Freedom From Religion group is atheist per se. I think they are just against the intrusion of religion into government functions.

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Response to oberle (Reply #41)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 02:34 PM

43. They're a separationist group, primarily

as their name implies.

In practice, they are mostly an atheist organization, and they do a lot of outreach, if that's the right word -- e.g., their billboards.

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Response to Turborama (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 03:21 PM

47. NO, don't tax churches. Enforce the tax code. It is the only thing keeping churches from

becoming full fledge political machines. Look what they're doing now. Imagine what it would be like if there was no electioneering prohibition on them. Enforce the code, fine them if they engage in electioneering.

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