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Monday, September 24, 2007

IRS Drops Investigation Into Church's Anti-War Sermon; Church Demands Investigation of IRS and Apology

All Saints Episcopal Church (Pasadena, CA) has announced that the IRS has closed its two-year investigation into whether the church's tax-exempt status should be revoked because of an anti-war sermon delivered by its pastor on the Sunday before the 2004 presidential election. The September 10 letter from the IRS concluded without explanation that the sermon in question constituted improper intervention in the 2004 Presidential election but did not take any action to revoke its tax exemption because "this appears to be a one-time occurrence and that you have policies in place to ensure that the Church complies with the prohibition against intervention in campaigns for public office."  The church has demanded an investigation of the IRS and an apology.

From today's L.A. Times (Pasadena Church Wants Apology from IRS):

Ellen Aprill, a law professor at Loyola Law School and a tax law specialist, also called the unclear outcome of the case "puzzling" and said it underlined the need for the IRS to explain which activities violate the rules against intervening in a political campaign.

See also the Associated Press.  Here are the documents released by All Saints Church:

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2007/09/irs-drops-inves.html

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Comments

501(c)(3)'s prohibition on intervention is absolute so there is no allowance for de minimis intervention. Furthermore, if intervention did occur then an excise tax per sec. 4955 should be levied.

Either the Service knows its conclusion is wrong, or it wimped out.

Posted by: Steve Sparks | Sep 24, 2007 8:02:14 AM

While we are on the subject, can someone explain how Dobson can say he is not supporting particular Republican presidential candidates and not lose the tax exepmt status for Focus on the Family? How is this different than an individual minister speaking for himself and not as head of the Episcopal Church? Other than this is how the IRS and DOJ work under Bush, Dobson's special, etc..

Posted by: mamzic | Sep 24, 2007 8:32:01 AM

The IRS dropped this simply because if they didn't, they would have to go after all the good church leaders stumping for GOP candidates in pulpits across the country every election season. They know it and so does everyone else....

Posted by: mellio | Sep 24, 2007 10:12:41 AM

> 501(c)(3)'s prohibition on intervention
> is absolute so there is no allowance for
> de minimis intervention. Furthermore, if
> intervention did occur then an excise tax
> per sec. 4955 should be levied.

Which is why tax-exempt status for churches
is so fundamentally wrong.

Posted by: donh | Sep 24, 2007 10:14:09 AM

There has been a bill sitting in the House that would exempt churches from the 501(c)(3) intervention prohibition but it has gone no where. Its been there for years. I think politicians in both parties are scared to death that someone would say God is opposed to them, so they like the status quo.

Only one church has ever had its exemption revoked, and that was a church that took out ads against Clinton back in 1992. I do not know of any church that has ever been taxed per 4955.

Posted by: Steve Sparks | Sep 24, 2007 11:48:21 AM

Jack Siegle has some interesting thoughts on his Charity Governance blog:

http://www.charitygovernance.com/charity_governance/2007/09/better-to-rende.html

For the sake of the law, we are disappointed that the IRS decided not to revoke All Saints' exempt status. The IRS is now well down the road to establishing a first-bite policy when it comes to political interventions...

The IRS's critics miss three critical facts: First, Congress, not the IRS, makes the laws. Second, and related, Section 501(c)(3) specifically prohibits charitable organizations, which include churches, from intervening in political campaigns. Third, at least two reports have conclusively determined that the IRS, in applying the limitations in Section 501(c)(3) to charitable organizations during the 2004 election cycle, did so on a nonpartisan basis.

Posted by: Nemo Dat | Sep 24, 2007 1:45:14 PM

There always seems to be
a war debt left for every
generation to pay.

All of this is made possible by
the Federal Reserve and the IRS
which were both born in 1913
as the result of pressure put
on Woodrow Wilson by Zionist
bankers who wanted the US
to extend the First World War
so that the Ottoman Empire
would be destroyed in order
to create the state of Israel.

http://www.angelfire.com/empire/sholon/benjamin3.html

http://users.cyberone.com.au/myers/freedman.html

36 states were required to
adopt the Federal Reserve's
income tax amendment.

11 states did not vote,
Kentucky rejected it and
33 changed the language.

So strictly speaking no state voted
for the 16th amendment as it
was passed by congress at all.

http://www.thelawthatneverwas.com/02_man/theman.asp

All of that does not matter.

All that matters is who pays the people
with the guns.

"Give me control over a nation’s
currency and I don’t care who
makes its laws.”

- Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1743 – 1812)

Posted by: Ernest | Sep 24, 2007 8:14:52 PM

What ever happened to free speech and freedom of thought?

Posted by: Margaret Kaye | Sep 24, 2007 8:15:36 PM

"....can someone explain how Dobson can say he is not supporting particular Republican presidential candidates and not lose the tax exepmt status for Focus on the Family? How is this different than an individual minister speaking for himself and not as head of the Episcopal Church? Other than this is how the IRS and DOJ work under Bush, Dobson's special, etc.. ....."

Excellent point

Posted by: Gerald | Sep 24, 2007 9:51:23 PM

I apologize that I did not notice
that the article "Benjamin Freedman
Speaks: The Hidden Tyranny" has
fake "anti-Semitic" attachments to them.

I read the original document entitled
“President Wilson Blackmailed”
at:

http://www.historicist.com/untermeyer/wilson.htm

which is suspiciously down at the moment,
leaving only fake sites such as the
"NATIONAL VANGUARD" and "Jew Watch" as
online sources to reference Ben Freedman's
work.

It is my belief that the only purpose for
these sites is to smear people who
question official lies of history by
associating their writings with Hollywood
villains.

http://debatebothsides.com/showthread.php?p=850827&posted=1#post850827

I may also have made a mistake about dates.
I do not know because I have no record of my
post, nor can I edit it.

Of course, WWI began in 1914.

The Federal Reserve and the income
tax were created with intent to finance
a world war which was planned in advance,
to cease control of the US monetary system,
destroy the Ottoman empire, and create
the state of Israel, in my opinion.

http://users.cyberone.com.au/myers/freedman.html

Posted by: Ernest | Sep 25, 2007 4:42:15 AM