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(Some Guy)   IRS sued over lack of enforcement of prohibition on electioneering by religious non-profits   (thedailypage.com) divider line 384
    More: Hero, Freedom From Religion Foundation, IRS, establishment clause, sanctity of life, freedoms, tax code, Constitution of the United States, churches  
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17398 clicks; posted to Main » on 15 Nov 2012 at 3:38 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-15 05:01:36 PM  

tenpoundsofcheese: meh. the Constitution does not provide for freedom from religion or freedom from being offended.


It also doesn't provide for churches to be exempt from laws that other groups have to follow.
 
2012-11-15 05:06:18 PM  
Should the NJEA lose its Tax Exempt status?
 
2012-11-15 05:06:21 PM  

fluffy2097: End tax exempt status for all religious organizations.

If your organization wants to endorse a political candidate, you should have to comply with campaign finance laws. sammyk: CapeFearCadaver: kronicfeld: I don't know that I want to see a precedent set whereby one can sue the government for its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

It's blatantly and publically breaking the law. If any of us were to do the same we'd be toast.

But you do not sue the local police to report a crime.

You DO sue the police when a crime is reported and they tell you to fark off, we don't care that a crime was committed.


And you lose.
 
2012-11-15 05:06:23 PM  

Delawheredad: Sorry everyone is equal under the law. You can't enforce laws for one set of folks and ignore them for others. If you sue one church you have to sue everyone who violates the law, a practically impossible task.


Which is why every jaywalker gets fined.

Reductio ad Absurum is really a lame argument, dude.

Fallacious, in fact, one might say.
 
2012-11-15 05:06:40 PM  

colon_pow: the IRS is a hero?
wait till they come for you.


My dealings with the IRS have always been amicable. But, I don't claim exemptions I can't prove. They even sent me a refund when I fubared my taxes and sent them too much money.
 
2012-11-15 05:07:35 PM  

Delawheredad: hugram

The IRS should go after the obvious offenders. If they did nothing wrong, then they have nothing to worry about

So you are in favor of selective enforcement.

Sorry everyone is equal under the law. You can't enforce laws for one set of folks and ignore them for others. If you sue one church you have to sue everyone who violates the law, a practically impossible task.


For the record, I'm an atheist so I would have no problem if every church lost their exempt status, but I understand a lot of churches do good things. I'm not pushing for all of them to lose their exempt status... just the ones that violate the IRS rule.

Having said that, I wish the IRS would go after a church... any church that broke the rule. They have not gone after anybody, and that's an issue many people have, including me.

Ideally, I would like the IRS to go after all churches that broke the law, but one would be a great start.
 
2012-11-15 05:07:58 PM  
If an issue is at odds with the principles or teachings of a church, they can and should be able to preach about them, *regardless* that it is a political issue as well. And yes, even if preaching means an ad in a newspaper. They're not talking about big oil, global warming or taxes from the pulpit, the abortion and marriage debates are important religious issues.

Threatening a church with loosing tax-exempt status is a road we do *not* want to go down, people. Seperation of church an state goes both ways. Why is it that people only get their feathers in a ruffle when they perceive the church is extending its reach. You should fear the government far, far more.
 
2012-11-15 05:08:19 PM  

tenpoundsofcheese: meh. the Constitution does not provide for freedom from religion or freedom from being offended.

how about they sue the IRS for not getting Buffet to have his companies pay the 10 years of back taxes. That would have a bigger impact on the budget.


I'm not sure you understand how much money goes through churches...
 
2012-11-15 05:09:06 PM  

Delawheredad: While there are violations of this law all the time enforcing it opens a can of worms. If one rogue pastor in a local Episcopal church breaks this rule who is responsible for the fine? The pastor violated the edicts of his parent organization so it would be unfair to hold them responsible. You also can't fine the local church because the statement was the opinion of the pastor and not necessarily the church. What do you end up with a fifty dollar fine on the rogue pastor?


And that's 50 bucks less the local male prostitute will be earning that month.
 
2012-11-15 05:10:59 PM  

Ragetech: You should fear the government far, far more.


You should fear them both equally. see: dark ages for references.
 
2012-11-15 05:11:28 PM  

EatHam: Weaver95: if the law wasn't broken, then the pastors will have a chance to prove that fact.
 
I'm not sure that you're placing the burden of proof properly.


As far as I know this isn't a criminal trial, this is a civil action. Criminal trial standards would not apply.
 
2012-11-15 05:12:06 PM  
Delawheredad:

While there are violations of this law all the time enforcing it opens a can of worms. If one rogue pastor in a local Episcopal church breaks this rule who is responsible for the fine?

If one rogue member of any group breaks this rule who is responsible for the fine?

Things can work from the bottom up as well as from the top down. Fine that church.
 
2012-11-15 05:12:20 PM  

TrollingForColumbine: I would also like to see polling places not in churches


Why? It's not an endorsement of a religion. They are simply granting the government to use a public space that is not being used that day anyway.
 
2012-11-15 05:19:06 PM  

Ed Grubermann: TrollingForColumbine: I would also like to see polling places not in churches

Why? It's not an endorsement of a religion. They are simply granting the government to use a public space that is not being used that day anyway.


I'd like to see that, and churches stripped of their power to legal marry people. There is no reason to have "by the power vested in my by the state of". If you want a religious ceremony surrounding your marriage, do it; but as you are already heading to a magistrate or similar government official to get the document in the first place, why not just sign everything there in front of him and be done with it?

There is no reason to entangle a government with a religious institution at such a basic level as contract witnessing or voting.

//And it is a farce anyways. I can go to a couple of places online right now, become a minister, and have the legal right to marry people.
 
2012-11-15 05:20:10 PM  

hugram: Delawheredad: hugram

The IRS should go after the obvious offenders. If they did nothing wrong, then they have nothing to worry about

So you are in favor of selective enforcement.

Sorry everyone is equal under the law. You can't enforce laws for one set of folks and ignore them for others. If you sue one church you have to sue everyone who violates the law, a practically impossible task.

For the record, I'm an atheist so I would have no problem if every church lost their exempt status, but I understand a lot of churches do good things. I'm not pushing for all of them to lose their exempt status... just the ones that violate the IRS rule.

Having said that, I wish the IRS would go after a church... any church that broke the rule. They have not gone after anybody, and that's an issue many people have, including me.

Ideally, I would like the IRS to go after all churches that broke the law, but one would be a great start.


That's the crux of the entire question. Can the government, bound by the First Amendment, revoke a legal status due to political speech or action? I think such an action would be unconstitutional.
 
2012-11-15 05:20:42 PM  

EatHam: GAT_00: Religious organizations can apply to be non-profits. Almost none should be granted one.

I think that the problem you have is likely within the process.  They all do apply to be non profits, but there's a special streamlined application for them, and almost all are granted one immediately.  Also, they don't have the same burden of proof that others do.


So your saying that they are given this status based on faith?
 
2012-11-15 05:24:12 PM  

meat0918: colon_pow: the power to tax is the power to destroy.

here's your chance you godless heathens.
are your little gay weiners hard yet?
don't answer that.

Serious question for you.

Are you truly OK with a religious leader telling his or her congregation or parish, in their capacity as a religious leader, that if they do not vote the way he tells them too, they will be punished, either in this life or the next?


nope
 
2012-11-15 05:25:11 PM  

gbv23: My church consists of Religious Humanists----we don't do God, Jesus, BELIEFS or The Bible. Its called uua.org. Yes, we do social justice but not election-lobbying. We love Teh Gheys


Why do you hate JHVH?
 
2012-11-15 05:25:11 PM  
At least the effort to cut the budget of the IRS every year makes more sense now. A fully funded IRS would not only collect more of the money owed from more of the people who aren't paying, it would have resources for things like enforcing the corners of IRC 501.

The guy who talked about prioritizing money is right. The IRS is primarily, and really should be exclusively, a revenue-collecting machine. Problems start to arise when you start using the tax code as an instrument of social poilcy. It creates all kinds of perverse incentives.
 
2012-11-15 05:27:11 PM  

coco ebert: This Is Bold Text: Good.

They want to use the government to force their will on women and gays

I want to use the government to force them to pay their fair share.

Interestingly enough, I'm wondering if a group could similarly sue the government to enforce the federal ban on gay marriage or the federal ban on marijuana.


Actually, depending on the makeup of the supreme court, the gay ban suit might backfire, since ther's been an argument that it would be covered by the equal protections clause of the 14th amendment.
 
2012-11-15 05:27:16 PM  
Metraxis

Problems start to arise when you start using the tax code as an instrument of social poilcy. It creates all kinds of perverse incentives.

-- here here!
 
2012-11-15 05:28:26 PM  

tenpoundsofcheese: how about they sue the IRS for not getting Buffet to have his companies pay the 10 years of back taxes. That would have a bigger impact on the budget.


In 2011, 32% of all charitable donations, or $95.88 billion, went to religious organizations. At a *very* modest 15% tax rate that amounts to over $14 billion in annual tax revenue. Warren Buffet's "back taxes owed" total is about $1 billion...and that's a one-time payment. How exactly would that have a bigger impact on the budget?

Source for charitable giving: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=42
Source Warren Buffet's taxes: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/how-much-is-buffetts-berkshire-hathawa y-back-tax-bill-exactly-about-1-billion/
 
2012-11-15 05:28:40 PM  

qorkfiend: hugram: Delawheredad: hugram

The IRS should go after the obvious offenders. If they did nothing wrong, then they have nothing to worry about

So you are in favor of selective enforcement.

Sorry everyone is equal under the law. You can't enforce laws for one set of folks and ignore them for others. If you sue one church you have to sue everyone who violates the law, a practically impossible task.

For the record, I'm an atheist so I would have no problem if every church lost their exempt status, but I understand a lot of churches do good things. I'm not pushing for all of them to lose their exempt status... just the ones that violate the IRS rule.

Having said that, I wish the IRS would go after a church... any church that broke the rule. They have not gone after anybody, and that's an issue many people have, including me.

Ideally, I would like the IRS to go after all churches that broke the law, but one would be a great start.

That's the crux of the entire question. Can the government, bound by the First Amendment, revoke a legal status due to political speech or action? I think such an action would be unconstitutional.


Simply put, yes. The code offers a conditional benefit. No church is required to apply for or receive a tax exemption to be a church. you can just be a church that pays taxes. The essential crux is that these entities are either seperate from the public sphere or they are not. Sometimes yes and sometimes no is certainly attractive from the church's POV, but it isn't good policy, and does run counter to the First Amendment.
 
2012-11-15 05:29:50 PM  

Ed Grubermann: TrollingForColumbine: I would also like to see polling places not in churches

Why? It's not an endorsement of a religion. They are simply granting the government to use a public space that is not being used that day anyway.


Well then we should let the KKK rent out its meeting house. Perhaps the Hell's Angels have a nice alcove we could use. I hear NAMBLA has a hell of a suite at the business park.

Some things should be done in a neutral location. Public school, town hall, public arenas, library. My wife is Israeli (and Jewish) she is not comfortable voting in a christian church. I only care on principle she cares in her soul. Such feelings, though maybe illogical, may prevent some people from voting.
 
2012-11-15 05:30:51 PM  

Pitabred: tenpoundsofcheese: meh. the Constitution does not provide for freedom from religion or freedom from being offended.

how about they sue the IRS for not getting Buffet to have his companies pay the 10 years of back taxes. That would have a bigger impact on the budget.

I'm not sure you understand how much money goes through churches...


See above. It is A LOT. We're not talking Afghanistan/Iraq kind of money, but still....it's A LOT.
 
2012-11-15 05:32:16 PM  

GAT_00: EatHam: GAT_00: Religious organizations can apply to be non-profits. Almost none should be granted one.

I think that the problem you have is likely within the process.  They all do apply to be non profits, but there's a special streamlined application for them, and almost all are granted one immediately.  Also, they don't have the same burden of proof that others do.

I don't think most of them are non-profits, so I doubt they'd pass a real process.


What do you base that on? Any evidence?

Most churches bring in well under $200k a year, with three full time staff, a mortgage and community programs there isn't much left over. Minister salaries are taxed, and data on them puts them at under $50k a year.
 
2012-11-15 05:32:18 PM  

Slaxl: What's the function of exempting religion from taxes?


They're non-profits (well... MOST churches are) that have at least some charitable intent. In theory, giving them a tax break

A) means you're not sucking from an empty well... the majority of American churches are far from loaded

and

B) allows them to use the money that they do have in order to carry out charitable causes.

Problem is, you have megachurch pastors and priests with exponentially more money and greed than intent to guide others to live the life as exemplified by Jesus.
 
2012-11-15 05:34:30 PM  

TrollingForColumbine: My wife is Israeli (and Jewish) she is not comfortable voting in a christian church.


Why is your Israeli wife voting in an American election?
 
2012-11-15 05:35:59 PM  
This is why the US government never got into this fight:

Start with the one side where you have people who have spent 6000 years or so researching things like...

"If the Sabbath Goy accidentally tripped and fell over and accidentally knocked the stove on, and if he was carrying goy food to his mother at the time that included shellfish...

Then you'll run up against the Jesuits. Good luck with that. An order trained in logic that would fark Spock sideways, up, down, ana, kata and then have him killed at the next zebra crossing.

Then there's the Fiquiah... which I don't pretend to know as well, but from what little I do know can tell you anything you want to hear and make you want to hear it.

Does anyone think an IRS lawyer can do anything at all with that? I haven't even gotten out of the Abrahamic religions here... 

Maybe there is something to the whole concept of separating the secular from the divine.
 
2012-11-15 05:37:14 PM  

TrollingForColumbine: Why? It's not an endorsement of a religion. They are simply granting the government to use a public space that is not being used that day anyway.

Well then we should let the KKK rent out its meeting house. Perhaps the Hell's Angels have a nice alcove we could use. I hear NAMBLA has a hell of a suite at the business park.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/photographer-michael-mergen- v ote_n_2082446.html
 
2012-11-15 05:40:46 PM  

This text is now purple: TrollingForColumbine: My wife is Israeli (and Jewish) she is not comfortable voting in a christian church.

Why is your Israeli wife voting in an American election?


Dual citizen. This was he first election.
 
2012-11-15 05:41:21 PM  

TrollingForColumbine: This text is now purple: TrollingForColumbine: My wife is Israeli (and Jewish) she is not comfortable voting in a christian church.

Why is your Israeli wife voting in an American election?

Dual citizen. This was her first election.

 
2012-11-15 05:43:57 PM  

This text is now purple: TrollingForColumbine: Why? It's not an endorsement of a religion. They are simply granting the government to use a public space that is not being used that day anyway.

Well then we should let the KKK rent out its meeting house. Perhaps the Hell's Angels have a nice alcove we could use. I hear NAMBLA has a hell of a suite at the business park.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/photographer-michael-mergen- v ote_n_2082446.html


Yeah I saw that too. As long it is not a church I don't have as big of a problem with it. Though I think place that serve alcohol should be off limits. Two things to avoid talking about at the bar religion and politics.
 
2012-11-15 05:46:55 PM  

TrollingForColumbine: This text is now purple: TrollingForColumbine: Why? It's not an endorsement of a religion. They are simply granting the government to use a public space that is not being used that day anyway.

Well then we should let the KKK rent out its meeting house. Perhaps the Hell's Angels have a nice alcove we could use. I hear NAMBLA has a hell of a suite at the business park.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/photographer-michael-mergen- v ote_n_2082446.html

Yeah I saw that too. As long it is not a church I don't have as big of a problem with it. Though I think place that serve alcohol should be off limits. Two things to avoid talking about at the bar religion and politics.


Any other laws you'd like us to implement because you personally find them convenient?
 
2012-11-15 05:48:02 PM  
Really hoping that Obama gets to appoint 3 more justices. Go with 3 very young, very healthy and very liberal, and you start to balance the court towards sanity.
 
2012-11-15 05:50:15 PM  
I believe taxing religious institutions is a great idea and would be great for education/healthcare/NASA/economy/infrastructure/et cetera, but I think setting this sort of precedent could backfire, specifically in states that just legalized recreational marijuana use.
 
2012-11-15 05:52:03 PM  
"I don't know how you feel, but I'm pretty sick of church people. You know what they ought to do with churches? Tax them. If holy people are so interested in politics, government, and public policy, let them pay the price of admission like everybody else. The Catholic Church alone could wipe out the national debt if all you did was tax their real estate."

-- George Carlin
 
2012-11-15 05:52:31 PM  

lake march: I believe taxing religious institutions is a great idea and would be great for education/healthcare/NASA/economy/infrastructure/et cetera, but I think setting this sort of precedent could backfire, specifically in states that just legalized recreational marijuana use.


The DEA's never had a problem conducting operations in states with legal marijuana before. It's unlikely their approach will change.
 
2012-11-15 05:53:27 PM  

This text is now purple: TrollingForColumbine: This text is now purple: TrollingForColumbine: Why? It's not an endorsement of a religion. They are simply granting the government to use a public space that is not being used that day anyway.

Well then we should let the KKK rent out its meeting house. Perhaps the Hell's Angels have a nice alcove we could use. I hear NAMBLA has a hell of a suite at the business park.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/photographer-michael-mergen- v ote_n_2082446.html

Yeah I saw that too. As long it is not a church I don't have as big of a problem with it. Though I think place that serve alcohol should be off limits. Two things to avoid talking about at the bar religion and politics.

Any other laws you'd like us to implement because you personally find them convenient?

i4.photobucket.com
 
2012-11-15 06:07:42 PM  

Slaxl: What's the function of exempting religion from taxes?


To show that religion is exempt from politics and thus stop them from talking about it. That way religions can't be the deciding factor in our political atmosphere.
 
2012-11-15 06:07:50 PM  

DjangoStonereaver: While I am in support of the tax-exemption for religious organizations (despite the abuse that it could
lead to), I vainly hope that this goes somewhere and that these asshat preachers who abused it lose
that status.

They won't, I'm sure, but I can pray for it, can't I?


Pray, then write your representatives.
Please, add action to prayer.

Or consider your actions to be the answer to your prayer. Be someone else's answer.
 
2012-11-15 06:08:44 PM  
Wut's goin' on up in here?

blogs.courant.com
 
2012-11-15 06:10:37 PM  
This will open a can of derp that has never before seen in the US.
 
2012-11-15 06:10:41 PM  

Raharu: Tax.

All.

Religions.

Equally.


New.

Revenue.

Stream.


!.
 
2012-11-15 06:11:59 PM  

Cyberluddite: The more basic issue than this for me is that I don't see how the IRS making churches exempt from taxation--or allowing individual taxpayers to take tax deductions for donations to churchs to support religious activities (such as Mitt Romney's millions of dollars each year in tithing that he's required to contributions to the Mormon Church to remain in good standing)--can be deemed to be allowable under the Establshment Clause of the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court keeps chipping away at Establishment Clause cases and allowing more and more religious intrusion into government activities (and vice-versa), but the basic premise at work here was set out 65 years ago in the Supreme Court's Everson v. Board of Education case as follows:

The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups, and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect "a wall of separation between church and State."

Doesn't allowing Pat Robertson's TV network to be exempt from taxes--when every non-religious TV network pays taxes--amount to the government giving support to religous activities? If the income Billy Graham's o ...


Well said.
 
2012-11-15 06:12:25 PM  

foxyshadis: Weaver95: EatHam: Weaver95: anyone who gets up there and starts endorsing candidates loses their exemption. anyone who avoids politics and/or keeps it vague (i.e. not endorsing a candidate) gets to keep their exemption.

I could very well be mistaken (and I'm sure that there will be plenty of people very happy to tell me if I am), but isn't it supposed to be that way for all non profits, not just religious ones?

well yeah. problem is that we don't follow our rules that are already on the books. I just don't see the point of writing NEW rules when the ones we've got address the issue quite well. so the problem isn't with the rules...its with the IRS. why has the IRS not done it's job? is it politics? a structural issue? slow response? that's where I'd focus my attentions.

The IRS has been gutted by years of anti-tax politicians and their appointees. The less functional the IRS is, the more proof they have that it's non-functional and unfair and the more excuse they have to gut it further.


Also historically it's really hard to "prove" a crime of quality like this. Basically they have to find a long-term systemic problem, assemble a planet-sized katamari-ball of evidence and then bury the religious organization with it. Even then, it tends to lead to a plea deal where the church pays some pittance percentage of what they owe, promise to never do it again, and all is forgiven.
 
2012-11-15 06:13:19 PM  

EatHam: GAT_00: Remove the tax exemption.

For all non profits, or are you going to say that no religious organization is allowed to be categorized as non profit?


Make them file separately. Church business plate. Church charity plate.

/ouch that'd hurt like bamboo under fingernails
 
2012-11-15 06:15:02 PM  

TheMysticS: EatHam: GAT_00: Remove the tax exemption.

For all non profits, or are you going to say that no religious organization is allowed to be categorized as non profit?

Make them file separately. Church business plate. Church charity plate.

/ouch that'd hurt like bamboo under fingernails


//Aw, poop, missed a slashie.
///a church should not be considered a charity just by existing
 
2012-11-15 06:20:37 PM  

usernameguy: Unfortunately I think what will happen is that the electioneering statute will be ruled unconstitutional.


No one is denying free speech to churches. They simply choose to lose the privilege of not paying taxes if they endorse political candidates. If they are going to continue to allow this, then they have to allow me to write off my donation to a political campaign as tax deductible charity.
 
2012-11-15 06:21:59 PM  
Wow. You Libs are really angry, aren't you?
 
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