This Should Be Interesting...

I've complained before about the IRS' privileging of churches and religious organizations.  My complaints were generally more about churches being totally tax-exempt despite their politicking, which has gotten bolder and bolder in its forays over the border between "non-specific beliefs that have political ramifications" and "telling people how to vote or who to vote for" - and the IRS has done nothing about it.

These two lawsuits, however, take up against different religion-specific tax rules, ones I hadn't even known existed.  Apparently, churches and affiliated organizations which have 501(c)(3) status or want to acquire such don't have to pay application fees, which secular non-profits do - and these are not $20 copay type fees; apparently, they can run up to $850.  Which isn't *that* much to most big orgs, but a lot of starting-out non-profits don't have a generous budget, and so this takes a big bite out of what they can do as they're getting set up.  Additionally, churches and religious organizations aren't required to submit yearly financial information filings, which secular non-profits do.   When the IRS itself estimates a total of 211 work-hours to complete the relevant filing?  That's not a small inconvenience.  The informational filings are public information, and must include the names of any donors who give over $5,000.  People who want to donate fuckbuckets of money to churches to carry out their (frequently political) work can do so in anonymity, but if you want to donate to a secular non-profit, your contribution goes on public record.

I don't know enough about the relevant laws and precedents to speculate on these cases.  But I think it'll be interesting to see how they play out, and if it might help lay groundwork for further challenges to churches as tax-exempt demi-political organizations (for those who choose to behave that way).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Band boosters. Pre school. Cat adoption. I am involved in these and they have all had to file and hope they were accepted. A church is an easy one. Even Westboro has it free.


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