Tuesday, October 26, 2004
With a week to go before the Presidential election, we return to the intersection of tax, religion, and politics with two items:
• A follow up on the IRS's warning that it "will take whatever actions are necessary to stem abusive behavior" by churches that directly or indirectly participate in the campaigns on behalf of any candidate (blogged here and here). The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty has sent a 2-page letter to every church and house of worship in the U.S. offering to defend it, free of charge, if it becomes ensnared by these rules. Here is the opening of the letter:
Have you been threatened with loss of your institution’s tax-exempt status if you engage in anything remotely resembling "political activity"? If you haven't yet, you no doubt will. Every election year, well-funded groups that oppose true freedom of speech and religious exercise attempt to gag leaders like you, usually by sending letters that contain tendentious statements about federal tax law and your constitutional rights.• A Guide to Election Year Activities of Section 501(c)(3) Organizations, by Steven Sholk (Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, P.C., Newark) published by Practising Law Institute as part of the course handbook for the seminar, Tax Strategies for Corporate Acquisitions, Dispositions, Spin-Offs, Joint Ventures, Financings, Reorganizations & Restructurings 2004.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. We are writing for three reasons: (1) to debunk these exaggerated threats, especially as they relate to preaching from the pulpit and preaching on moral and political issues; (2) to invite you to visit our website, www.freepreach.org, for more information; and (3) to urge you to contact us immediately if the IRS threatens you for either type of preaching, so that we can give you legal assistance, free of charge.