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(WTOP)   The IRS has basically quit even trying to enforce that whole "tax-exempt churches can't preach politics" thing. Because, you know, it's hard and stuff   (wtop.com) divider line 218
    More: Stupid, IRS, United States federal courts, Americans United, church law, worship service, tax code  
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8761 clicks; posted to Main » on 05 Nov 2012 at 12:57 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-05 12:36:39 PM
Was the 'Obvious' tag busy instructing its congregation that voting for Obama will usher in the apocalypse?
 
2012-11-05 12:59:03 PM
"A 2009 federal court ruling required the IRS to clarify which high-ranking official could authorize audits over the tax code's political rules. The IRS has yet to do so."


So basically, high ranking IRS officials are claiming the ol' "It's not MY job" line.

Enforce it or change the law.
 
2012-11-05 01:00:01 PM
Huh huh huh....
You said "hard."
 
2012-11-05 01:00:31 PM
I used to litigate these back in the day on behalf of the government. They're usually brought to the IRS's attention by whistleblowers with an axe to grind ("I'm mad at my preacher!") or Americans United.

The IRS hates to litigate them because of the negative publicity -- the IRS going after your church? Ugh.
 
2012-11-05 01:01:17 PM
 
2012-11-05 01:01:23 PM

PreMortem: Enforce it or change the law.


Why do that when you can leave it on the books and then attack whoever you want for purely political reasons later on, when whoever is in power can deem it necessary? That seems like a good way to run things.
 
2012-11-05 01:01:29 PM
Gosh, wouldn't want them to have to do anything useful.
 
2012-11-05 01:01:49 PM
They'll be all over making sure to collect the Obamaxare Tax, though.
 
2012-11-05 01:01:53 PM
A while ago Bill Maher opined that churches are indeed abusing the tax exemption, and if the church catches on fire the church people should not be allowed to call the fire department.
 
2012-11-05 01:02:24 PM
During an election year, it's hard to stay away from the topic of politics. If you truly believe in the words of Jesus Christ, then you can't be silent about the evil that is the Republican party.
 
2012-11-05 01:02:37 PM
I agree. It is hard. At this point, it's much easier just to get rid of that law and let the government have its taste of tithes and collection plates. It should be retroactive for at least a decade, and let's just go ahead and slap some interest and late fees on it too. The Pope can do with a few less gold hats or ugly-ass shoes this year.
 
2012-11-05 01:03:31 PM
Meh, not so hard as just completely farking unpopular and would take up all their time.
 
2012-11-05 01:03:34 PM
Just get rid of their tax exempt status.

God understands, otherwise he wouldn't have told you to give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.

Problem solved.
 
2012-11-05 01:03:39 PM

TheOriginalEd: Sometimes.. I really dont like living here..


Okay, I give up. You humans are all doomed.
 
2012-11-05 01:03:48 PM
They'll enforce it when Obama makes the DEA take your guns. I warned you!
 
2012-11-05 01:04:00 PM
Let them say whatever they want. Also, let them pay taxes.

If you want tax exemption, you'd better abstain from politics.
 
2012-11-05 01:04:08 PM
To HELL with OBAMA and the NAACP...President Obama is a "Judas" and he has sold out African Americans.

media1.policymic.com
/just saying is all.....
 
2012-11-05 01:07:09 PM

MurphyMurphy: Just get rid of their tax exempt status.

God understands, otherwise he wouldn't have told you to give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.

Problem solved.


Don't even have to go that far; just eliminate their "closed book" privilege. Non-church non-profits have to justify their status, but churches can just claim it with impunity. They also don't pay property taxes, which is ultra special.

Just make them follow the regular rules about disclosure and let 'em at it.
 
2012-11-05 01:08:25 PM

scottydoesntknow: Was the 'Obvious' tag busy instructing its congregation that voting for Obama will usher in the apocalypse?


You've obviously never been to an AME church before election day. They had Obama posters up behind the pulpit this year.
 
2012-11-05 01:08:56 PM

GORDON: They'll be all over making sure to collect the Obamaxare Tax, though.


yeah they already said they aren't shouldering that one

but you know, continue spouting raw sewage out of your computer

which thread you gonna hit next with boldface lies?
 
2012-11-05 01:09:01 PM
In other news, taxation of expatriates continues unabated.

Taxation without representation is tyranny"
 
2012-11-05 01:09:11 PM

devildog123: scottydoesntknow: Was the 'Obvious' tag busy instructing its congregation that voting for Obama will usher in the apocalypse?

You've obviously never been to an AME church before election day. They had Obama posters up behind the pulpit this year.


But that's different.
 
2012-11-05 01:09:20 PM
In a survey last week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 40 percent of black Protestants who attend worship services regularly said their clergy have discussed a specific candidate in church -- and the candidate in every instance was President Barack Obama.

Correlation does not equal causation... Correlation does not equal causation... Correlation does not equal causation...
 
2012-11-05 01:10:42 PM
Wasn't aware the IRS was doing this at all.

On paper, I love this idea. In practice, not so much.

I'd settle for getting that whole "keeping religion out of politics" thing though. That seems a weighty enough task.
 
2012-11-05 01:11:00 PM

TheOriginalEd: Sometimes.. I really dont like living here..


ugh.
 
2012-11-05 01:11:21 PM
Yeah, I stood up in church during the announcement part of our service. I happened to be on the Altar at the time, as I was a LEM (Lay Eucharistic Minister) and had my garb on.

I stood up and said "Get out and vote. I don't care who you vote for, but there's more than just the presidential election on the ballot and there's plenty of things that will affect you or someone you know. If you can't make it to your polling place, tell me and I'll drive you there myself."

And then I sat down and that was that.

Why can't other churches do it that way?
 
2012-11-05 01:11:31 PM

Englebert Slaptyback: A while ago Bill Maher opined that churches are indeed abusing the tax exemption, and if the church catches on fire the church people should not be allowed to call the fire department.


Liberal compassion at work.
 
2012-11-05 01:12:17 PM
Rev. Wright is happy.
 
2012-11-05 01:14:48 PM
not so csb:

My wife and I were on our honeymoon in Hawaii a couple weeks ago when we attended an open-aired sunday morning Episcopal church service. Things were going rather swimmingly until the sermon.

The preacher ended his sermon with:

...I recently had a meeting with numerous other religious leaders. many different races, colors, religions, all present for a lunch-time discussion. We wanted to come together to brainstorm more ways we can help those who need it most. We talked about many things, but the overarching message, was to help figure out what more we can do to help influence public policy.

He ended his sermon with a smile and a nod, and my wife and I looked at each other with mirrored expressions, "WTF? DID HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT?"

And that's when we looked around everyone else was nodding their heads.

It gave me a sad for this country.
 
2012-11-05 01:16:27 PM

Tax Boy: I used to litigate these back in the day on behalf of the government. They're usually brought to the IRS's attention by whistleblowers with an axe to grind ("I'm mad at my preacher!") or Americans United.

The IRS hates to litigate them because of the negative publicity -- the IRS going after your church? Ugh.


Yeah, but it's not like the IRS has ever had positive publicity anyway.
 
2012-11-05 01:17:12 PM

scottydoesntknow: Was the 'Obvious' tag busy instructing its congregation that voting for Obama will usher in the apocalypse?


I don't think that's what Rev. Wright preaches...
 
2012-11-05 01:17:52 PM
P - O - L - I - T - I - C - S

Barack Obama doesn't want to take fire from the right for declaring war on Christians, something that would assuredly happen if the IRS were to, you, know, actually enforce the law.
 
2012-11-05 01:19:01 PM
Saw this bumper sticker on a nice minivan out in the swellburbs:

"Your Vote counts for today and for all Eternity"

And a simply Google search turns up a couple of iterations of the same type message.
http://tarafurman.blogspot.com/2012/11/will-your-vote-stand-test-of-f i re.html

And you can't tell me she didn't take it up Satan's Chute whilst trying to land a stockbroker/husband in college.
 
2012-11-05 01:20:13 PM

Boeheimian Rhapsody: not so csb:

My wife and I were on our honeymoon in Hawaii a couple weeks ago when we attended an open-aired sunday morning Episcopal church service. Things were going rather swimmingly until the sermon.

The preacher ended his sermon with:

...I recently had a meeting with numerous other religious leaders. many different races, colors, religions, all present for a lunch-time discussion. We wanted to come together to brainstorm more ways we can help those who need it most. We talked about many things, but the overarching message, was to help figure out what more we can do to help influence public policy.

He ended his sermon with a smile and a nod, and my wife and I looked at each other with mirrored expressions, "WTF? DID HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT?"

And that's when we looked around everyone else was nodding their heads.

It gave me a sad for this country.


Well, we wouldn't want religious people infecting public policy with their religious ideas. Right, William Wilberforce? Right, MLK Jr?
 
2012-11-05 01:21:17 PM
Why is there an exemption in a nation that preaches (snort) separation of Church and State?
 
2012-11-05 01:22:04 PM

IAmRight: PreMortem: Enforce it or change the law.

Why do that when you can leave it on the books and then attack whoever you want for purely political reasons later on, when whoever is in power can deem it necessary? That seems like a good way to run things.


Ironically, this has been the case since 2009, after Obama took office. Could you imagine the situation if Obama directed the IRS to enforce this?

Another example of Obama v. Religion that doesn't exist.
 
2012-11-05 01:22:36 PM

Lord Dimwit: Tax Boy: I used to litigate these back in the day on behalf of the government. They're usually brought to the IRS's attention by whistleblowers with an axe to grind ("I'm mad at my preacher!") or Americans United.

The IRS hates to litigate them because of the negative publicity -- the IRS going after your church? Ugh.

Yeah, but it's not like the IRS has ever had positive publicity anyway.


No kidding. When has the IRS ever worried about their image?
 
2012-11-05 01:22:38 PM

scottydoesntknow: Was the 'Obvious' tag busy instructing its congregation that voting for Obama will usher in the apocalypse?


Nah, it was over with the Asinine tag telling its congregation that voting for Romney will send them back to the fields.
 
2012-11-05 01:23:00 PM
I truly despise organized religion.
 
2012-11-05 01:23:16 PM

JackieRabbit: declaring war on Christians


The Christian cry of "persecution" comes as easily in this country as the F-word does to Gordon Ramsey, to be fair. You'd think it would be dismissed just as easily, and you'd of course be wrong.

Not that more than an Nth of them have the faintest idea what the word means. Anything much over three syllables tends to confound. But it is one hell of a lightning rod, I suppose.


All that said, it really doesn't sound very practical in terms of enforcement. Short of being exceedingly invasive of religious organizations, i don't see how enforcement could be accomplished.
 
2012-11-05 01:24:10 PM

Prank Call of Cthulhu: I agree. It is hard. At this point, it's much easier just to get rid of that law and let the government have its taste of tithes and collection plates. It should be retroactive for at least a decade, and let's just go ahead and slap some interest and late fees on it too. The Pope can do with a few less gold hats or ugly-ass shoes this year.


Very little of American Catholic donations actually go to the Vatican. The vast majority of it ends up recycled in the US -- American Catholics are really willing to donate money to pay for food banks, schools, housing for the homeless, for support for single mothers, and for upkeep on their local churches. Paying for the Vatican? They leave that up to the Europeans.
 
2012-11-05 01:24:39 PM
The most blatent abuse of this I ever saw was at a wedding for a family member of mine. Right inside the front doors of the church was a pamphlet holder full of pamphlets about the churches stand of certain political standings. I was a little confused about that since I was in school at the time and we had studied that exact thing.
 
2012-11-05 01:26:42 PM

Nightsweat: Let them say whatever they want. Also, let them pay taxes.

If you want tax exemption, you'd better abstain from politics.


It doesn't even have to be that cut-and-dried.

I think that even a politically-active organization should be able to do charitable works and have really-charitable contributions counted as deductible.

Consider the example set by every Rotary/Lions/Kiwanis/Masonic/IOOF/etc chapter in the country. In every case (I've been the treasurer of a tiny Lions club), there's a "club account" and a "charitable account". Charitable fundraising goes in the charitable account. Charitable donations are tax-deductible. Club dues go in the club account. These are not tax-deductible. Club expenses are paid out of the club dues account.

If every little civic service club in the country can keep two sets of books straight, the 'Jesus clubs' can and should do the same damned thing.
 
2012-11-05 01:26:50 PM

Hack Patooey: Lord Dimwit: Tax Boy: I used to litigate these back in the day on behalf of the government. They're usually brought to the IRS's attention by whistleblowers with an axe to grind ("I'm mad at my preacher!") or Americans United.

The IRS hates to litigate them because of the negative publicity -- the IRS going after your church? Ugh.

Yeah, but it's not like the IRS has ever had positive publicity anyway.

No kidding. When has the IRS ever worried about their image?


when the IRS gets characterized as jackbooted thugs you start getting legislation like the 1998 Reform Act that reins in the IRS even more
 
2012-11-05 01:28:03 PM

Tax Boy: The IRS hates to litigate them because of the negative publicity -- the IRS going after your church? Ugh.


As if churchgoers start out with any love for the IRS.
 
2012-11-05 01:28:07 PM
Good. It's a waste of time and resources. Plus, as a society we should be training people to exercise their free speech, not giving them more and more areas where they feel like they must watch what they say.

Just end tax exempt status for churches already and be done with it.
 
2012-11-05 01:31:51 PM

factoryconnection: MurphyMurphy: Just get rid of their tax exempt status.

God understands, otherwise he wouldn't have told you to give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.

Problem solved.

Don't even have to go that far; just eliminate their "closed book" privilege. Non-church non-profits have to justify their status, but churches can just claim it with impunity. They also don't pay property taxes, which is ultra special.

Just make them follow the regular rules about disclosure and let 'em at it.


THIS THISITY THIS--I'm not even "Tax the Churches" so much as "Close The Church Loopholes".

Make them do what EVERY OTHER SINGLE ORGANISATION FILING FOR 501(C)3 STATUS MUST DO:

1) File some sort of documentation (religious incorporation papers, etc.) with the IRS in the same way that 501(c)3s must prove they are an actual not-for-profit.

2) (The Biggie) File a yearly form 990 or 990-EZ like every other not-for-profit org in the country has to do including documentation of very large donations and very large amounts of money given to third parties.

Incidentially, it's those bits that dominionist churches have fought tooth-and-nail (putting them in a strange Culty-McCulterson similarity with the Scientologists, who are actually the reason that the laws re church incorporation and registration amount to "Claim you're a church to the IRS and never pay a penny of taxes ever again and never keep any records open to your parishoners much less third parties"). It's been very strongly suspected that some of the worst actors (the SBC and the Assemblies of God, as well as a mess of televangelists and other "Independent" neopentecostal megachurches) have been outright funding political groups in a very illegal manner, but it's next to impossible to prove this because nobody can get to the books. (And yes, people have tried. Congress has even tried, in the case of televangelists linked to an embezzlement scandal at ORU. It's next to impossible to do so in practice even with a Congressional subpoena.)
 
2012-11-05 01:31:55 PM

Son of Thunder: Boeheimian Rhapsody: It gave me a sad for this country.

Well, we wouldn't want religious people infecting public policy with their religious ideas. Right, William Wilberforce? Right, MLK Jr?


Churches have been advocates for social and political ideas for a long time. The Catholic Church has been preaching and fighting for an end to capital punishment for instance. They've lobbied Congress to promote anti-human-trafficking measures. Is every socio-political idea off the table?
 
2012-11-05 01:31:55 PM
wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com
 
2012-11-05 01:32:07 PM

BarleyGnome: I truly despise organized religion.


I'm an atheist and I'm quite happy to have organized religion. Even if you set aside the amazing music and art from the Renaissance that came out of Christianity and just focus on the modern, you have -- the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Relief Services, tons of hospitals and schools, food banks, homeless shelters, and tons of other service related charities.
 
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