FFRF sent a substantive 23-page memo to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in late March, weighing in on 17 issues regarding the financial status of churches which the senator is studying.
Last year, Grassley asked the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), an accreditation agency promoting fiscal integrity, to solicit responses from churches on a series of legislative proposals prepared by Grassley’s staff. The 17 issues all involve the favored financial status that churches and other religious organizations have under U.S. law.
Believing it is vital for Grassley to hear secular viewpoints, as well, FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor sent a detailed re-sponse, which can be read in full at:
FFRF, which is currently in federal court challenging the insidious “parish exemption” that rewards ministers with special housing allowance benefits, urged Grassley to work to rescind that favored treatment.
FFRF also wants churches to be required to file Form 990, as all other tax-exempt organizations, including FFRF, must do, accounting for what they do with tax-deductible donations.
FFRF noted, “Having one rule for churches, which exempts them from documenting their eligibility, and even from paying fees all other 501(c)(3) groups must bear, means churches are given special, favored status. This lack of oversight and accountability not only discriminates against nonchurch nonprofits, but encourages . . . scams and crime. It encourages predators, con artists, and those who, in the name of religion, would prey on the most devout.”
FFRF opposes the suggestion of a clergy advisory committee to superintend IRS tax policy regarding churches, advocates “love offerings” (cash gifts to church leaders) be presumed to be taxable income, and says churches and church managers should be penalized for unlawful excess benefit transactions.
FFRF also wants compensation study guidelines to prevent church leaders from comparing their salaries to superstars such as Oprah, and for the IRS continue to prohibit churches from endorsing candidates if they wish to retain tax exemptions.
Read more at: