Church Electioneering and the IRS: Another Example of Tax Agency Failure
You might have noticed that there has been a little controversy about the Internal Revenue Service lately.
It appears that officials in a Cincinnati IRS office subjected some conservative organizations that were seeking a form of tax exemption to heightened scrutiny and additional procedures because they had words like "Tea Party" and "patriot" in their names.
Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS's tax-exempt division, has conceded this was wrong. I agree. It's also frustrating.
Here's why: For some years now, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has been urging the IRS to crack down on tax-exempt religious organizations that engage in blatant partisan electioneering. These are clear violations of the law, and yet the IRS seems to have done nothing to penalize scofflaws.
When I say clear violations of the law, I mean clear. I'm talking about religious organizations using their tax-exempt personnel and resources to intervene in elections. I'm talking about pastors standing up and telling their congregants which candidates to vote for or against, endorsing candidates in church bulletins or taking other actions that step way over the line.
These activities are not permitted. No tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization -- religious or non-religious -- can engage in behaviors designed to intervene in an election by endorsing or opposing a candidate. This is so because one of the conditions of tax exemption (which is very lucrative benefit) is that the groups holding it must refrain from this type of overt partisan politicking.
complete story here--