30 Jan 2015

Please God, Don’t Let Us Get Audited: How IRS Is Scaring The Heck Out Of Churches

Pastors across the country live in fear that the IRS will come knocking, and that fear is growing as candidates prepare to announce their 2016 presidential candidacies.
Pastors navigating vague IRS laws that legislators have been lax in reforming are now worried that exercising their First Amendment rights will cost them their tax exempt status. They are worried that any political comments, even by a guest pastor, could cost them their church, and experts say there is little hope of reform before the next election.
These vague tax laws, that lawyers say even they don’t fully understand, have led to fearful citizens and selective enforcement which directly hinders free speech, according to a bipartisan panel of tax experts in Washington D.C. on Thursday.

Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, works with churches across the country on how to avoid violating tax laws. He said that fear of the IRS prevents many pastors from speaking their minds on political issues.

The IRS recently said that it currently has 99 churches under high priority investigation, Stanley said.
“The problem with the vagueness of the law is exacerbated by the spotty enforcement, and basically unequal and sometimes selective prosecution that’s gone on,” Stanley told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The IRS will go after certain groups and other groups, but not other groups and there’s no explanation given for why that seems to be that case.”
In the case of Branch Ministries vs. Rossotti, the IRS went after a church that put an ad in USA Today telling Christians not to vote for Bill Clinton. Stanley said that for their defense they submitted hundreds of pages of newspaper articles of churches doing the same thing who were not prosecuted, demonstrating a long history of seemingly arbitrary enforcement.
Stanley said many pastors self-report themselves to the IRS, but only a fraction are actually investigated. ADF has invested in educating pastors, but he said it’s really impossible to educate all pastors on what they can and cannot do.
Experts on the panel said the vague tax laws are so undefined that even lawyers are unsure about what they mean. This leaves churches not knowing if they’re stepping over the line, causing a “chill” on free speech.
Stanley said that fear is worsened by liberal groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation who send out mass mailings to churches warning them that political action could get their tax exempt status revoked, something that would force many churches to shut down.
“A lot of churches, because of the fear of the IRS audit, they are just going to do anything to say ‘no, I’ll stop doing what I’m doing because I don’t want the audit,’” Stanley told TheDCNF.

14 comments:

  1. Good. They shouldn't be tax exempt in the first place.

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  2. This GREAT! Why should they be allowed to act as Political Activists? When they should be Preaching about God. Take their Tax Exempt status away for being Political Pac's essentially, which IS WHY Many should be worried!

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  3. If they are not tax exempt, the alternative is politicization. Are you comfortable with the Catholic Church ordering their adherents to vote in a certain way? If the Church says so, most Catholics will vote exactly how they are told. Do you want that? I know I do! So I agree with you! The Church should lose its exemption status, then it can return to its proper place as a guiding force of politics.

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  4. i guess that's why do many churches are toeing the line and spreading the zionist end times fables to bring armageddon so the zionist jews can rule over the ashes with their anti-christ messiah.

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  5. You're a fool. "Why should they be allowed to act as Political Activists?" Don't you know that the entire purpose of tax exemptions for churches is so they CAN'T get into politics? Today in America, if a Church acts politically, it loses its exemption status. By taking away the exemption status, you are GUARANTEEING that Churches will be become vigorously political. It is the exemptions that keep the Churches from telling their followers in a certain way.

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  6. Not a Fool! These "Churches" wouldn't be worried about their Tax status being revoked. If they weren't acting as Political arms of the GOP/Teapotty in particular. Though not exclusively. They should stick to Religion. Maybe jail some Pedo's while they are at it too!
    If they lose their Tax Exemption, then they would lose their followers (sheep) because they would just be Religious Pac, and NOT a true Church anyway. Your point?

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  7. LOL. Last year over 2000 pastors nationwide video taped themselves giving political sermons and mailed them to the IRS. Living in fear? They are daring the IRS to do anything because they would love to have this in front of the SCOTUS.

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  8. I stopped reading your comment when you implied there was a difference between the republican and democrat parties. Anyone who believes that is not worth listening to.

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  9. You're joking, right?
    The churches are no different than any other bribed bought and blackmailed bureaucrat commodity.


    Flags in church. Praise the troops! War is good.
    Onward Christian soldiers!

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  10. If the shoe fits……..

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  11. You know things are getting bad when Caesar threatens to confiscate the thirty pieces of silver already paid to these churches ..

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  12. Churches are built by people who pay the same taxes, if not more than you, in order that there can be some community center for them to share resources and build relationships that aren't solely based on profit. Only someone who hates humanity and suffers from an irrational hatred of anyone who is different would think government needs to be taking a share out of that.


    But go ahead, it just means the church will go underground and become more fundamentalist. Nobody who wants to tax churches has really thought that through.

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  13. The problem is that most churches and other small businesses simply do not have the staff to keep records in the form that the IRS wants and expects, and the IRS has little sympathy for organizations that either have no records or don't have them in order. This is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don't scrimp on good record keeping, it pays off in a big way in the event of an audit.

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  14. Ain't THAT the truth!
    Two Zio-burrs on a Zio-jackal's tail.

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