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IRS Abuses Power AGAIN


jvikings1
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It appears political forces within the IRS have abused their power once again. Not only is their decision a violation of the 1st Amendment protections to freedom or religion, it is also a major violation of protections to the freedom of speech. This is just further proof that the agency was way too much power and needs to be reigned in. Without reform (or preferably abolition), it is almost certain for this abuse to continue (and likely grow) as the years continue to go on.

 

IRS denies tax-exempt status to Christian nonprofit group because 'the Bible’s teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican Party' (msn.com)

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13 minutes ago, jvikings1 said:

It appears political forces within the IRS have abused their power once again. Not only is their decision a violation of the 1st Amendment protections to freedom or religion, it is also a major violation of protections to the freedom of speech. This is just further proof that the agency was way too much power and needs to be reigned in. Without reform (or preferably abolition), it is almost certain for this abuse to continue (and likely grow) as the years continue to go on.

 

IRS denies tax-exempt status to Christian nonprofit group because 'the Bible’s teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican Party' (msn.com)

I'm sure if it was truly malicious, then it will get struck down in courts.

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Just now, Hestia said:

I'm sure if it was truly malicious, then it will get struck down in courts.

The courts are not a reliable option and should not be an excuse for abuse of power by those in government. But, it is very obvious in this case that this organization was targeted for their beliefs (something that is not an isolated incident in recent history).

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Just now, Patine said:

There is nothing Biblical about either the doctrine of the Republican or Democratic Parties of the United States. They are both of Caesar, as Christ's Metonym for mortal governance would apply, and some of the worst and Un-Christian aspects of Caesar. Of course, the rampant and opportunistic politicization of the claim to be Christian, and the religions trappings, while utterly living an Un-Christlike, cynical, conniving, wolf-in-sheep's clothing life, in many ways practicing and preaching thing outright anathema and antithesis to Christ's Ministry and Path to Salvation, not just in the U.S., but many parts of the world, are staining the true image of the Christian Church, and are a big part of the problem, too.

You must not have read the article because the point is that the religious organization is nonpartisan (which means they are not encouraging any political party)

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I'm pro ending tax-exempt status for religious organizations in most cases, but in this case I definitely think that the IRS has erred. Organizations that promote civic engagement should have their tax exempt status recognized regardless of the organization's religious affiliation, or lack there of.

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9 minutes ago, jvikings1 said:

The courts are not a reliable option and should not be an excuse for abuse of power by those in government. But, it is very obvious in this case that this organization was targeted for their beliefs (something that is not an isolated incident in recent history).

You are conducting a straw man argument. You are specifically ignoring parts of the article that are unfriendly to your message. As you said in the other thread, sometimes you have to wait for everything to come out.

But the IRS pointed to the group’s leadership, which has members that have been heavily involved in Republican political activities in previous years. The rejection letter also accuses the organization of engaging in “prohibited political campaign intervention” and operating “for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the [Republican] party.”

So the IRS says that the leaders have engaged (as well as the organization as a whole) in prohibited campaign intervention and for private purposes. Also, nowhere does the IRS claim that the Republican Party is affiliated with the entire Bible and it's teachings. So what you've said there is false as well. This is the whole quote, for those who haven't read the article. 

“Specifically, you educate Christians on what the Bible says in areas where they can be instrumental including the areas of sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and borders and immigration, U.S. and Israel relations,” read a letter from IRS Exempt Organizations Director Stephen Martin to Christians Engaged, a nonprofit group seeking tax-exempt status. “The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican Party] and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRC Section 501(c)(3).”

They are specifically discussing the verses *cherry picked by this organization*. The issues they are promoting are linked to Republican causes - that is why when they say "the Bible teachings" they are referring to ones that the organization chose.

So, as always, it is deeper than surface value that you chose to look at. 

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1 hour ago, WVProgressive said:

I'm pro ending tax-exempt status for religious organizations in most cases, but in this case I definitely think that the IRS has erred. Organizations that promote civic engagement should have their tax exempt status recognized regardless of the organization's religious affiliation, or lack there of.

My thoughts exactly. 

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2 minutes ago, Patine said:

 

A tax-exempt organization should be any organization, whether religious or not, and regardless of stated values, ideologies, and beliefs, the conducts charity, philanthropy, and works to better communities and lives, domestically and/or abroad, as opposed to accruing profit.

While that's fine and dandy, most religious organizations are not about accruing profit. Speaking from my experience (as a small-church going individual), it is tough for some of these rural, small churches to pay for even the basics. We have to scrape every penny we have to even re-do our outmodeled air conditioning or repair our crumbling parking lot. I just don't see where people draw the line and the demarcation on it to be convinced that it's a good idea.

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5 hours ago, Patine said:

That's how all Christian Churches were in the first 300+ years of Christianity (before the Conversion and Baptism of the Roman Emperor Constantine I, who gained full power fighting under the Banner of the Cross), and they were underground (often literally in basements, persecuted by authorities, and in collectivist communities). But I digress.

I am well aware that many Churches do not, and are not able, go out and do, "the Good Works," enjoined by Christ, except out of the pockets of individual Congregation members. There would have to be made, though, some way of separating these Churches from abusive cults and scams disguised as religious groups (often for tax scams, among others) other then the philanthropic threshold. I wouldn't dismiss other such qualifiers - there are just some groups I feel should not be cut tax slack *cough* Scientology *cough* Love Has Won *cough* Christian Science *cough* and others...

You should get that cough checked out man, sounds pretty nasty 😷 

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14 hours ago, Patine said:

But we Christians must remember that taxation of any sort, no matter how much is heaped on for whatever reason (or stated reason) is not a point of Christian doctrine or a hill to die upon, by the words of our Lord and Saviour,"

"Then render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's,"

Since Christ, Himself, was constantly dismissive of the importance of currency and mortal wealth, and mortal nations and government (even willingly facing execution in a horribly excruciating way for it), and saw these two things as moreso impediments on the Path to Salvations, not vehicles to promote it, so too must we view things and live in that light.

When it is being used as a point to oppress Christian's, then it is something that needs to be discussed (especially when there are supposed to be protections for religious freedom).

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14 hours ago, Hestia said:

You are conducting a straw man argument. You are specifically ignoring parts of the article that are unfriendly to your message. As you said in the other thread, sometimes you have to wait for everything to come out.

But the IRS pointed to the group’s leadership, which has members that have been heavily involved in Republican political activities in previous years. The rejection letter also accuses the organization of engaging in “prohibited political campaign intervention” and operating “for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the [Republican] party.”

So the IRS says that the leaders have engaged (as well as the organization as a whole) in prohibited campaign intervention and for private purposes. Also, nowhere does the IRS claim that the Republican Party is affiliated with the entire Bible and it's teachings. So what you've said there is false as well. This is the whole quote, for those who haven't read the article. 

“Specifically, you educate Christians on what the Bible says in areas where they can be instrumental including the areas of sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and borders and immigration, U.S. and Israel relations,” read a letter from IRS Exempt Organizations Director Stephen Martin to Christians Engaged, a nonprofit group seeking tax-exempt status. “The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican Party] and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRC Section 501(c)(3).”

They are specifically discussing the verses *cherry picked by this organization*. The issues they are promoting are linked to Republican causes - that is why when they say "the Bible teachings" they are referring to ones that the organization chose.

So, as always, it is deeper than surface value that you chose to look at. 

Except it is you who is ignoring the parts that are unfavorable.

I never denied they were supporting certain positions that would be considered on the conservative side of the spectrum; however, that does not disqualify one from tax exempt status (there are many ideological-bend organizations which are tax exempt because they don't directly support a particular party). Denying this organization (while allowing these other similar organizations to have tax exempt status) is a clear assault on their beliefs, rather than the merit of existing law.

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15 hours ago, WVProgressive said:

I'm pro ending tax-exempt status for religious organizations in most cases, but in this case I definitely think that the IRS has erred. Organizations that promote civic engagement should have their tax exempt status recognized regardless of the organization's religious affiliation, or lack there of.

 

13 hours ago, vcczar said:

My thoughts exactly. 

If these organizations do not make a profit, what is there to tax? Why should civic organizations be allowed tax exempt status but not religious ones? While this would be an attack on religious freedom, it would also significantly hamper the work these organizations/churches do in communities that need help.

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Just now, jvikings1 said:

 

If these organizations do not make a profit, what is there to tax? Why should civic organizations be allowed tax exempt status but not religious ones? While this would be an attack on religious freedom, it would also significantly hamper the work these organizations/churches do in communities that need help.

I think mega churches make a lot of profit. Look at the salaries these mega church people make. I’d say certainly a non-profit shouldn’t be taxed but it isn’t really a non-profit if someone is making millions or billions off the organization. I consider a non-profit a business in which, other than upkeep, expansion, and decent (not excessive) salaries, all the money goes to some sort of charity or to whatever the non-profit is supposed to fund. 

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4 minutes ago, jvikings1 said:

Except it is you who is ignoring the parts that are unfavorable.

I never denied they were supporting certain positions that would be considered on the conservative side of the spectrum; however, that does not disqualify one from tax exempt status (there are many ideological-bend organizations which are tax exempt because they don't directly support a particular party). Denying this organization (while allowing these other similar organizations to have tax exempt status) is a clear assault on their beliefs, rather than the merit of existing law.

I'm not saying whether or not that this is truly a First Amendment issue. It surely could be, the IRS *could* be wrong. However, you are jumping to conclusions with little public evidence to show what the IRS says is wrong. Your title on this is incendiary, it ignores anything the IRS says that the organization did (which *is* against the rules provided by the tax exempt laws). That's why I'm saying that you need to wait. There's surely a process for this that will play out. You're jumping to conclusions. 

no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

I'm assuming they're looking at this part of the Johnson Amendment. You're acting like it's a blatant assault on religious freedom, when in fact, it's probably a conflict over interpretation over this part of the law. 

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6 minutes ago, vcczar said:

I think mega churches make a lot of profit. Look at the salaries these mega church people make. I’d say certainly a non-profit shouldn’t be taxed but it isn’t really a non-profit if someone is making millions or billions off the organization. I consider a non-profit a business in which, other than upkeep, expansion, and decent (not excessive) salaries, all the money goes to some sort of charity or to whatever the non-profit is supposed to fund. 

While I disagree with the salaries being paid in many cases (such as Joel Osteen), those salaries are taxed as income. Therefore, that money is being taxed.

As Chief Justice John Marshall stated "the power to tax involves the power to destroy." Giving the government that much power over religion is in violation of the 1st Amendment protections to religious freedom.

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19 minutes ago, jvikings1 said:

 

If these organizations do not make a profit, what is there to tax? Why should civic organizations be allowed tax exempt status but not religious ones? While this would be an attack on religious freedom, it would also significantly hamper the work these organizations/churches do in communities that need help.

Well let’s be clear on our facts that non-profits often make tons of profit. While that’s not their stated goal, it’s a welcome side effect. Credit unions are a perfect example of this and so are many churches and religious organizations.

While I definitely tend to agree with your take on this issue, acting as though large churches and other religious organizations  aren’t by and large making major mondo profit (however they reeinvest it mind you) is silly.

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7 minutes ago, Hestia said:

I'm not saying whether or not that this is truly a First Amendment issue. It surely could be, the IRS *could* be wrong. However, you are jumping to conclusions with little public evidence to show what the IRS says is wrong. Your title on this is incendiary, it ignores anything the IRS says that the organization did (which *is* against the rules provided by the tax exempt laws). That's why I'm saying that you need to wait. There's surely a process for this that will play out. You're jumping to conclusions. 

no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

I'm assuming they're looking at this part of the Johnson Amendment. You're acting like it's a blatant assault on religious freedom, when in fact, it's probably a conflict over interpretation over this part of the law. 

No, my response was based on the facts of the case. If you wish to look them up, you can read through all the court documents. While that does take some time, it lays out the case. However, the IRS response is clear enough.

“The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican Party] and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRC Section 501(c)(3).”

This line right here is clearly viewpoint discrimination (thus a violation of the 1st Amendment). Number 1 (like previously stated), there are a number of organizations already in existence with tax exempt status that support certain ideologies. Number 2, associating certain beliefs with the Republican Party simply because they hold the same/similar beliefs and using that as a justification for denial of tax exempt status is a violation of free speech. It essentially relegates those positions exclusively to the party and assumes that one cannot advocate for them outside of it. Number 3, in addition to the points in number 2, relegating religious beliefs to a party and basing decisions on tax exempt status based on that party is a violation of religious freedom. Under this assumption, a large number of churches could have their tax exempt status thrown into jeopardy because they hold these beliefs which align with the Republican Party. And assuming someone with such religious beliefs is aligned with the party is ridiculous.

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6 minutes ago, Dobs said:

Well let’s be clear on our facts that non-profits often make tons of profit. While that’s not their stated goal, it’s a welcome side effect. Credit unions are a perfect example of this and so are many churches and religious organizations.

While I definitely tend to agree with your take on this issue, acting as though large churches and other religious organizations  aren’t by and large making major mondo profit (however they reeinvest it mind you) is silly.

The vast majority do not make taxable profit (which would be the context for my statement). They use the money they gain for operating purposes or distributing it to other groups/people. Sure, some money is spent in ways that are not wise, but it is on those who donate to regulate those expenditures.

Though it does not surprise me to see you being an apologist for the progressives. Seems like you have a lot of experience in that area.

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1 minute ago, jvikings1 said:

No, my response was based on the facts of the case. If you wish to look them up, you can read through all the court documents. While that does take some time, it lays out the case. However, the IRS response is clear enough.

“The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican Party] and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRC Section 501(c)(3).”

This line right here is clearly viewpoint discrimination (thus a violation of the 1st Amendment). Number 1 (like previously stated), there are a number of organizations already in existence with tax exempt status that support certain ideologies. Number 2, associating certain beliefs with the Republican Party simply because they hold the same/similar beliefs and using that as a justification for denial of tax exempt status is a violation of free speech. It essentially relegates those positions exclusively to the party and assumes that one cannot advocate for them outside of it. Number 3, in addition to the points in number 2, relegating religious beliefs to a party and basing decisions on tax exempt status based on that party is a violation of religious freedom. Under this assumption, a large number of churches could have their tax exempt status thrown into jeopardy because they hold these beliefs which align with the Republican Party. And assuming someone with such religious beliefs is aligned with the party is ridiculous.

Churches are tax exempt already, and are forbidden from doing political activities already, so I don't really get number 3. That's kind of a "slippery slope" argument that won't really happen.

I am a bit more amenable to the argument 2, however. I think that would be a strong way to answer the case, in my own opinion.

I'm just arguing that there's more to it than what you're saying. Once again, "The Bible teachings" is referring to the teachings the organization chooses to use - which undeniably appeal more towards Republicans than they do Democrats. I'd need to see the certain ideologies tax exempt status to comment further, but the one that is referenced in the article is the one run by Michelle Obama. Her organization is targeting all voters to get registered, and isn't using specific political messages (in this case, causes supported by Bible verses) to do so. That's how I am assuming her organization was green lit.

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Just now, Hestia said:

Churches are tax exempt already, and are forbidden from doing political activities already, so I don't really get number 3. That's kind of a "slippery slope" argument that won't really happen.

I am a bit more amenable to the argument 2, however. I think that would be a strong way to answer the case, in my own opinion.

I'm just arguing that there's more to it than what you're saying. Once again, "The Bible teachings" is referring to the teachings the organization chooses to use - which undeniably appeal more towards Republicans than they do Democrats. I'd need to see the certain ideologies tax exempt status to comment further, but the one that is referenced in the article is the one run by Michelle Obama. Her organization is targeting all voters to get registered, and isn't using specific political messages (in this case, causes supported by Bible verses) to do so. That's how I am assuming her organization was green lit.

The point of number 3 is that those churches could lose their tax exempt status under this ridiculous argument from the IRS. Maybe it will happen, maybe it will not. The point is the danger such an assumption brings. The implications of such a decision are something that must be considered.

I'll give you an easy one: Planned Parenthood. They take positions in line with the Democratic Party (and even have an associated PAC that supports candidates). But, I don't see them having issues with their status. Another one would be the Transgender Law Center. Obviously, a group that advocated for left-wing ideals but still has their tax exempt status.

 

If this were a one time event, things would be different. But, the IRS has a history of targeting right-wing groups and making it difficult for them to secure tax exempt status. Continuing to give the IRS the benefit of the doubt is allowing them to continue to use their position to attack political opponents.

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1 minute ago, jvikings1 said:

I'll give you an easy one: Planned Parenthood. They take positions in line with the Democratic Party (and even have an associated PAC that supports candidates). But, I don't see them having issues with their status. Another one would be the Transgender Law Center. Obviously, a group that advocated for left-wing ideals but still has their tax exempt status.

 

The Transgender Law Center, importantly focuses on providing legal services and supporting transgender causes. They don't participate in party politics beyond supporting their own cause. Under that, the Pro Life Action League is also tax exempt. 

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17 minutes ago, jvikings1 said:

The vast majority do not make taxable profit (which would be the context for my statement). They use the money they gain for operating purposes or distributing it to other groups/people. Sure, some money is spent in ways that are not wise, but it is on those who donate to regulate those expenditures.

Though it does not surprise me to see you being an apologist for the progressives. Seems like you have a lot of experience in that area.

No personal attacks, please. 

I'll also defend @Dobs and say that he has, in no way, been an apologist for progressives. He's been consistently conservative since I've known him. He's also a self-declared Libertarian Republican just as you are, and just as @DakotaHale is. It's odd to see this civil war between the two of you. 

Going back to my own thoughts, I think a non-profit should lose its non-profit status if anyone in the company is profiting excessively from it. That is, a non-profit should be giving out the money it takes in at such a rate that the company isn't "profitable." I'll define profitable "non-profit" as a self-declared or recognized non-profit in which the owner, founder, or employees make incomes that put them well over the median household income (i. e. wealthy). I'll let others define wealthy. I'd say definitely the 1% (i.e. $400,000 a year), but I also personally consider anyone that makes double the median income as wealthy. (i.e. about $100,000). I feel as if a lot of people are profiting off of being a "non-profit" or being a "religious insitution." These are loop holes I want to see closed. 

True non-profits and churches that do not make a profit -- i.e. take in just enough money after dishing it out to their charities (or other) to upkeep, expands, innovate, and pay decent (but not excessive) salaries. 

 

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6 minutes ago, vcczar said:

No personal attacks, please. 

I'll also defend @Dobs and say that he has, in no way, been an apologist for progressives. He's been consistently conservative since I've known him. He's also a self-declared Libertarian Republican just as you are, and just as @DakotaHale is. It's odd to see this civil war between the two of you. 

I'll give you the same response I've given in discord. I don't really see a personal attack here. Getting accused of being an apologist of progressivism is not an insult for me. It's not like someone would talk about an apologist of nazism, racism or left-wing terrorism. 

If someone tells me that I am an apologist of Trumpism, I'd very well think said person is wrong and I'd explain myself once more, but I wouldn't be offended.

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