IRS Agent Goes To Church

Cartoon of IRS agent talking with pastor after church service.

IRS agent goes to church

Church and IRS in the News

Study: Congress should end IRS oversight of sermons
In the 1950s, Congress banned charitable nonprofits – including churches – from endorsing candidates or otherwise intervening in elections. Any nonprofit that violated the ban could run afoul of the IRS. Churches risked losing their tax-exempt status if the preacher endorsed a candidate in a sermon. It’s time for that to change, most Protestant pastors say in a new survey from LifeWay Research released Oct. 16.

Federal court strikes down ‘parsonage allowance’ for faith leaders
Religious leaders said Monday they’ll appeal a new federal court ruling that ends a housing allowance tax break claimed by clergy, saying it’s an unconstitutional benefit that only helps ministers and has no secular purpose. The decision by U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb, a Carter administration appointee in Wisconsin, would end the decades-old IRS practice of allowing ministers to exclude housing allowances from their taxable income.

Catholic Priest Gets Prison For Tax Evasion: Don’t Lie To IRS
A Catholic priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, California was sentenced to 36 months in prison for tax evasion and bank fraud. The case provides cautions about how to respond to IRS questions. Father Hien Minh Nguyen, age 56, admitted that over a period of four years, he stole money from his parishioners they donated to the Diocese of San Jose. And, from 2008 through 2011, he willfully evaded paying income taxes on it.

Onalaska church secretary guilty of stealing $832K
A West Salem woman pleads guilty in federal court to taking more than $832,000 in her role as church secretary and accounting clerk of an Onalaska church. The money she took, according to prosecutors, went for gambling. To cover up her crimes, prosecutors said she discarded records of church collections, falsified entries in accounting records, and lied to church auditors.

Separation of church and state? Texas churches sue for FEMA aid
In times of natural disaster in the United States, Christian churches are often on the front lines of relief efforts. They give money, they open their doors, they volunteer, serve and rebuild. Despite these important contributions, churches are blocked from receiving federal disaster relief funds because their primary function is religious. Other non-profit organizations can get FEMA funds, but not churches.