Wednesday, March 26, 2008
All Saints Church and the Argument for a Goal-Driven Application of Internal Revenue Service Rules for Tax-Exempt Organizations
Kara Backus has published "All Saints Church and the Argument for a Goal-Driven Application of Internal Revenue Service Rules for Tax-Exempt Organizations," 17 S. Cal. Interdis. L.J. 301 (2008). Here is an excerpt:
The conflict between All Saints and the IRS comes at a time of heightened public scrutiny of IRS enforcement of federal tax laws for tax-exempt organizations. The law limits all exempt organizations, not only churches, from venturing too far into the realm of politics. Three other highly publicized investigations are illustrative. In October 2004, in response to complaints from several Republican members of Congress, the IRS investigated whether statements made by National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") Chairman Julian Bond that were critical of the Bush administration violated the prohibition against campaign intervention. At the NAACP 2004 National Convention, Bond said, "The election this fall is a contest between two widely disparate views of who we are and what we believe. One view wants to march us backward ... ." The IRS concluded, nearly two years later, that the statement did not violate the conditions of the NAACP's exempt status. After the decision was announced, Bond expressed the opinion that the investigation was "initiated for partisan purposes to threaten our right to free speech."
The IRS does not, however, reserve its investigations for the political left. After an investigation into whether Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson's endorsement of 2004 Republican candidates violated tax laws, the IRS concluded that the Colorado evangelist acted as an individual, rather than in his capacity as chairman, and therefore his organization was not implicated in political activity. In September 2006, the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of Operation Rescue West, an anti-abortion group, after the group reportedly offered tax deductions in exchange for political contributions that would be used to defeat Senator John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.
For the entire article, see "All saints Church and the Argument for a Goal-Driven Application of Internal Revenue Service Rules for Tax-Exempt Organizations," 17 S. Cal. Interdis. L.J. 301 (2008) or contact Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal.