Thursday, November 24, 2005
The New York Times has published several letters to the editor in response to its Tuesday op-ed (Taxing an Unfriendly Church, blogged here) on the IRS's challenge to All Saints Church's tax exemption because of an anti-war sermon delivered the Sunday before the 2004 Presidential election. One of the letters is by Tax Prof Ellen Aprill (Loyola-L.A.):
You suggest that churches violate the tax law when they express support for federal judicial nominations. That is not the case.
Rightly or wrongly, the Internal Revenue Code provisions applicable to churches and other tax-exempt charities prohibit any intervention in a candidate's campaign for elective office at the risk of losing tax exemption, but they permit attempts to influence the legislature to a certain degree.
While the line between permissible and impermissible political activities of such organizations is often a difficult one to discern, such is not the case for taking a stand on federal judicial nominations. Efforts to influence the Senate in confirming judges fall into this second category and thus do not violate the prohibition regarding participation in election campaigns.