The IRS has "gagged the church"

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by kirkguardian, Jun 28, 2004.

  1. kirkguardian

    kirkguardian
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    Why Is The Church Silent?

    Those of us who have been involved in the prolife movement (or for that matter, any other movement that impinges upon moral issues) for any length of time know how frustrating it can be to get churches mobilized in any kind of formal and organized way in defense of the preborn.

    The process of mobilizing a church begins, in most cases, with the church's pastor. If the pastor is unsupportive, it's unlikely the church will be supportive. I know from much personal experience that there are thousands of pastors who claim to be prolife, yet they are noticeably nervous when I ask them to work with me in organizing a Life Appreciation Sunday, or join us for the Life Chain, or participate in any active way in defense of the preborn.

    When pressed on the matter, the conversation inevitably turns to the pastor's fear of jeopardizing his church's tax-exempt status.

    The Rev. D. James Kennedy has stated:

    </font>
    • “The federal government has proved a tremendous impediment to the ongoing work of Christians. In all the laws that they have passed against Christian schools, gagging the church, taxation, and all kinds of things that they have done, they have made it harder for the church to exercise its prerogatives and to preach the gospel.

      "Take the last presidential election. There were numbers of things that I knew that I was never able to say from the pulpit because if you advance the cause of one candidate or impede the cause of the other you can lose your tax exemption. That would have been disastrous not only for the church, but for our school and our seminary, everything. So you are gagged. You cannot do that. The IRS, a branch of our government, has succeeded in gagging Christians."</font>
    Dr. Kennedy is right, but he's also blaming the wrong party. The IRS has never required any church to be 501c3.

    The IRS' own publications plainly state that all church are "automatically tax-exempt and tax-deductible" without ever having to apply for 501c3 recognition.

    Not only is 501c3 status unnecessary for any church, when a church becomes a 501c3 they place themselves under the regulatory control of the IRS, and all the potential threat and intimidation that comes along with it. Why would any thinking pastor want that, when it's not at all necessary? It just doesn't make sense.

    Thankfully, there's a remedy. Churches can stop "rendering unto Caesar" those things which belong exclusively to Jesus Christ. For some insight on the issue you might want to check out: http://hushmoney.org
     
  2. Johnv

    Johnv
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    Kirk,

    501c3 status is not required for a place of worship, but it is required for other not-for-profit charitable endeavours, even if church affiliated. For example, the Salvation Army Church is not required to file for a 501c3 status, but Salvation Army Charities is, since it's not a place of worship.

    Many houses of worship file for 501c3 status to guarantee that any endeavours they engage in that may not be directly house-of-worship related will not compromise their status.

    Dr Kennedy's own televised Coral Ridge Hour and Coral Ridge Ministries are 501c3 corporations.
     
  3. amixedupmom

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    The thing that bothers me most. If Churchs had to pay taxes to ensure their beliefs we're intact, would there be a congragation out there who wouldn't gleefully give a little more to ensure that. Having their tax exempt status taken away should never have to be a "consequence" ... If I had to pay a few extra dollars of my income to be able to publically show my beliefs.. eh so be it. Even though this is a FIRST amendment issue. Freedom of speech. And that if they DID threaten on those grounds to take the tex status, You could have a very BIG lawsuit towards the IRS .....

    JMHO
     
  4. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    The interesting thing is that the NT never mandates a "life chain" or "Life Appreciation Sunday." The NT mandates the preaching adn teaching of the word of God. As a pastor, I don't get involved in those things for a very simple reason ... it was not what the church was commanded to do. We preach Scripture, unadulterated and unchanged. When Scripture touches on life, I touch on it. I in fact, have talked about it several times in the last few months.

    But we need to keep in mind that the NT gives the church mandate, not the political situation.

    And the IRS is not gagging the church. If a pastor is not saying something that is in the Bible because he fears the IRS, that is his fault. It is not the fault of hte IRS or the fault of the many churches who do not do that.
     
  5. USN2Pulpit

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    Agreed Pastor Larry. I've preached and taught "pro-life" throughout the year, not just on special Sundays.
     
  6. kirkguardian

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    False. There are no such restrictions, either in the tax code, tax regs, IRS publications, or any case law.

    In point of fact, the tax code and IRS publications repeatedly make use of the term "integrated auxiliary of a church." In IRC 508c it states:
    </font>
    • Sec. 508 Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations.
      (a)New organizations must notify secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status.
      (c) Exceptions.
      (1) Mandatory exceptions. Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to --
      (A) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches</font>
    So not only do churches not need to apply for tax exempt status under 501c3 (in the IRS' terms, a church is "exempt automatically" without ever having to apply), all "integrated auxiliaries" of a church are also exempt automatically and are not legally required to ever apply for 501c3 status. They are considered "tax exempt automatically."

    IRS Publ. 557 gives examples of church integrated auxiliaries, such as religious schools, mission boards and missionaries, youth groups, etc., etc. The IRS is far more expansive in its understanding of what the term "religion" means than the position you are taking, which is to limit and constrain "religion" to a "place of worship." I don't know where you came up with your "place of worship" theory, but you won't find it in the law.

    Wrong again. The fact that 42 Salvation Army entities have sought and obtained 501c3 status (as listed in IRS Publ. 78) doesn't mean that any of them were ever legally "required to file for a 501c3 status." No one has ever argued that the Salvation Army is anything other than a church, and it is a church that engages in many charitable activities, such as relief of the poor. The Salvation Army Church never needed to obtain 501c3 status, but they did. Most, if not all of the other Salvation Army entities could have qualified as integrated auxiliaries of the Salvation Army Church, but they chose instead to become 501c3 IRS toadies, just like their parent church.

    More than likely it was all done because, just like the vast majority of big church ministries, their board of directors is run by "licensed professionals" (attorneys and CPAs). Licensed professionals love the 501c3 status because it gives them job security and lots of billable hours. Non-501c3 churches don't really have much use for licensed professionals, so why would any licensed professional have any self-interest in recommending that a church not be 501c3?

    The fact that they do it doesn't mean they are doing what is legally required. I've heard of men in their 30's and 40's going to register for Selective Service (the draft), but that doesn't mean the law requires them to do it. What it means is that they are ignorant of what and who the law applies to. Will Selective Service take their application, even though the law doesn't require them to register? Of course they'll take it (they'll take it from any fool). Will the IRS process your application to become a 501c3 church, even though the tax code gives a Mandatory Exception to churches? Of course they will.

    The fact that you yourself are going far above and beyond the legal requirements, by attempting to restrict the terms "church" and "religion" to the rubric of "place of worship" demonstrates how ignorant most Christians have become on this issue.
    Quite true (and your point would seem to be that since Dr. Kennedy did it, it must be OK?). It's also true that Dr. Kennedy's board of directors is run by a pack of attorneys. If you think that lawyers are part of the solution for the mess America is in, then you should definitely do what they tell you to do. I happen to believe that lawyers are part of the problem in America, and that lawyers deserve much of the blame for the mess we're in. However, I would also hasten to note that if pastors weren't so quick to do everything their attorneys tell them to do, the church wouldn't be in the mess it's in today.

    Jesus Himself didn't have much nice to say about lawyers, did He?
     
  7. Johnv

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    False. There are no such restrictions, either in the tax code, tax regs, IRS publications, or any case law.

    In point of fact, the tax code and IRS publications repeatedly make use of the term "integrated auxiliary of a church." In IRC 508c it states:
    </font>
    • Sec. 508 Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations.
      (a)New organizations must notify secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status.
      (c) Exceptions.
      (1) Mandatory exceptions. Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to --
      (A) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches</font>
    So not only do churches not need to apply for tax exempt status under 501c3 (in the IRS' terms, a church is "exempt automatically" without ever having to apply), all "integrated auxiliaries" of a church are also exempt automatically and are not legally required to ever apply for 501c3 status. They are considered "tax exempt automatically."</font>[/QUOTE]

    You're correct. A house of worship, or an auxiliary of a house of worship, is not required to file for tax examption. 501c3 status is granted to them automatically. However, just because something is church run, doesn't mean it's automatically an "integrated auxilliary". A church-run bookstore or food court, for example, would not be automatically tax exempt.
    That's an apples and oranges comparison, and somewhat of a misinterpretation of scriptures. By that interpretation, it would be a sin for a Christian to pursue a law career today. That's not the intent of Jesus' comments.
     
  8. Karen

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    It was my understanding that 501(C)(3) was actually for the benefit of donors. A church does not have to be 501 to be tax exempt, but an individual donor cannot deduct charitable contributions on Schedule A he contributed to that organization. Many probably do and assume they can, just because they have never been audited.

    Being able to deduct on Schedule A is not automatic. For many, many people, the standard deduction is greater anyway. However, I think the concept is sound. And for many people, the deduction is good stewardship, enabling them to give more.

    Karen
     
  9. Karen

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    But I would note that churches which do participate in those specific activities are not in danger of losing 501 status. My church has participated in several Life Chains and always recognizes Sanctity of Life Sunday in January.
    It is in no danger.
    Hundreds of SBC churches in OK do both of the above, have for years, and are not in danger of losing 501.

    In OK (I have helped organize Life Chains) it is not fearful pastors that refuse to participate. It is IFB pastors who have a particular view of separation. They will not participate with a Lutheran in a Life Chain any more than in a Billy Graham crusade. That is their right, of course.

    Karen
     
  10. Ed Edwards

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    Amen, Sister Karen -- Preach it! [​IMG]

    Here is how your church can be
    free of government meddling;

    1. Do not own land
    (the land belongs to "your church"
    only by prmission of the civil government
    /in the USofA that is the States/ )

    2. do not collect or use money
    (The easiest way to do this is don't
    collect any money at all from members of
    the church. This money is printed by
    the civil authorities /in the USofA by
    the Federal Government/ It is their money
    and is used with their rules)

    So then, the so called "government meddling"
    is a BONUS for the local church

    I'd give $7,000 a year to my church as
    long as i have my nice job.
    Now i can give all $7,000 because i don't have
    to pay income taxes on it.
    Were the church i belong to deside they
    don't want to mess with the government
    meddlin', then i'd have to pay 20% on
    that as well as i do with the rest of
    my income. That means a tax of 20% of
    $7,000 which is $1,400. So i'd only give
    my church 7,000$ - 1,400$ = $6,600.

    Isn't it neat? My church gets $6,600 from
    me directly and and $1,400 from the
    government of the USofA because of me.
    Isn't that really meddlesome [​IMG]

    BTW, if i was an investigator for the IRS
    i'd be checking bulletin boards. When i
    find someone speaking against the IRS, i'd
    be checking their account and make sure
    that they are paying their fair share.
    Fortunately, I'm in distrabutions
    NOT in collections. [​IMG]
     
  11. kirkguardian

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    That seems to be the understanding that many people have. I suspect that ignorant attorneys and CPAs are the culprits responsible for that misinformation.

    The legal fact of the matter is that not only are churches "automatically exempt" from taxes (IRS Publ. 557) but they are "automatically qualified" as tax deductible (IRS Publ. 526).

    See http://hushmoney.org/501c3-myths.htm
     
  12. Terry_Herrington

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    Why should churches be tax-exempt in the first place?
     
  13. Johnv

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    You ask a good question. Tax exemption is not a constitutional requirement.

    But that's not the issue being argued. The issue is whether a church should have to file for examption to be considered tax exempt. A "house of worship" is not required to file for tax exemption. But any other charitable endeavors that a church engages in typically does, since those other endeavors are not "houses of worship".

    The mistake is that we often use the word "church" to refer to any type of ministry activities. The IRS rules exempt only "houses of worship". Otherwise, you could open up a brothel, call it a church, and presume that your actions are tax exempt and legal. They ain't.
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    With that kind of math, your church should be doing well ... or not ... :D ... Hopefully your treasurer has a calculator with him ... ;)

    Typically, I believe the argument is that the power to tax is the power to control. In order to maintain a church free from state control, freedom from tax is a necessary part of it. I could be wrong on that ... But I am trying to draw on my all too frail memory from too many years ago ... and I am not even that old yet ...
     
  15. Terry_Herrington

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    With that kind of math, your church should be doing well ... or not ... :D ... Hopefully your treasurer has a calculator with him ... ;)

    Typically, I believe the argument is that the power to tax is the power to control. In order to maintain a church free from state control, freedom from tax is a necessary part of it. I could be wrong on that ... But I am trying to draw on my all too frail memory from too many years ago ... and I am not even that old yet ...
    </font>[/QUOTE]I have heard the same thing for years. I'm just not sure of its validity.
     
  16. rsr

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    — John Marshall, McCulloch vs. Maryland, 1819

    The American tradition of tax exemption arose from the gradual disestablish of the state churches; as the established churches lost their ability to levy tithes, they were at least able to keep the exemption, and toleration had increased to the point that the non-established churches could enjoy it as well.
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    Thanks for bailing me out on that one ... I couldn't remember the citation ...
     
  18. Ed Edwards

    Ed Edwards
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    With that kind of math, your church should be doing well ... or not ... :D ... Hopefully your treasurer has a calculator with him ... ;)

    </font>[/QUOTE]well, more like $7K - $1,400 = $5,600. Sorry if there was any math
    anxiety started.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Just giving you a hard time, my friend ... [​IMG]
     
  20. Ed Edwards

    Ed Edwards
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    i at least aught to do my mathemanacles right :confused:
     

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