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article imageIRS sued for letting churches violate electioneering rules

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By Sean Fraser     Nov 15, 2012 in Religion
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a suit against the IRS for allowing churches to take out political ads, which violates the rules governing tax-exempt organizations.
The FFRF is a non-profit organization that monitors the seemingly growing problem of state and church separation. Their latest effort, the lawsuit against the IRS, is aimed at the IRS's inconsistency in enforcing its electioneering restrictions on religious, tax-exempt organizations.
The FFRF claims that up to three weeks before the election, up to 1,500 clergy around the country violated the electioneering restrictions and full page ads were published in newspapers by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association that were "blatantly political."
This lawsuit comes on the heels of the news that the IRS has stopped auditing religious organizations, according to a Bloomberg BNA article from October. There are other reports that the IRS has not monitored political activities of churches since 2009, when a federal court demanded the IRS to clarify who among their high-ranking officials was able to suspend audits.
A complaint was officially filed by the FFRF claiming that the lack of enforcement of the restrictions "constitutes preferential treatment to churches and religious organizations that is not provided to other tax-exempt organizations, including FFRF. Churches and religious organizations obtain a significant benefit as a result of being non-exempt from income taxation, while also being able to preferentially engage in electioneering, which is something secular tax-exempt organizations cannot do."
Religious organizations in America generally receive $70-$100 billion in tax exempt income each year.
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More about Churches, Freedom from religion foundation, Establishment Clause, Irs, Politics
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