NPR Article: Can A Television Network Be A Church? The IRS Says Yes

tetloj

Silver Meritorious Patron
My first thread! :redface:

Ms B Haven on the bunker posted a comment about this which has received little ensuing discussion.

http://www.npr.org/2014/04/01/282496855/can-a-television-network-be-a-church-the-irs-says-yes


This thread could possibly be titled - why we shouldn't expect the IRS to act any time soon.

Or, we could be more optimistic and think of this as another step towards greater scrutiny of the tax exempt sector (if public outrage ensues)

The article looks at financial documents that have become public via a court case against the TV Network Daystar. The records and article suggest that Daystar is more of a business than a church - sound familiar?

fair use snippets:

The IRS has a definition of a church, called the "14-point test." Among the criteria: regular services, Sunday school, ordained ministers and a regular congregation. But it rarely enforces the 14-point test anymore and, in fact, has never challenged Daystar's claim to be a church.

"For the most part, a church is a church if they say it's a church. And if it's a church, then it's tax-exempt," says Ron Wright, tax assessor-collector in Tarrant County, Texas, where Daystar is located.

Daystar has built a public image as a generous giver to charitable causes. Indeed, the network has contributed millions of dollars to a trauma center and a home for Holocaust survivors in Israel, a hospital in Calcutta, and to ministries that support women in Moldova and children in Uganda.
Lamb trumpeted those donations in a 2009 sermon in Australia: "In the last five years, Daystar has written checks of donations to others, to ministries, to churches, to missions, to hurricane relief, to tsunami relief, to hospitals, etc., to the tune of $30 million cash!"
NPR analyzed six years of Daystar balance sheets. They show the network gave away $9.7 million dollars in direct grants to outside recipients. Not $30 million. That works out to charitable giving of about 5 percent of donor revenue.

Paul Streckfus, a tax attorney who edits the Exempt Organization Tax Journal, believes the IRS actually likes having an excuse for not bothering churches. "Why the IRS doesn't like to audit churches?" Streckfus says. "The churches don't like it. They can scream and yell quite loudly and get Congress members' attention. And so the IRS not only doesn't like the churches to be mad at them, but doesn't like Congress to be mad at them."

NPR asked Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Ron White about the Copelands' tax-free chateau and private airport. "You know, I'm Catholic," Wright says. "I don't know any priest who lives that lavishly. But government should not be determining if a minister is living too lavishly. It's not for the government to determine if someone really needs an airplane for their ministry. That's just not something government should be getting into."
The bottom line: A megaministry with millions of dollars in property and profitable side businesses enjoys the same tax benefits that a little country church does.
 
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chipgallo

Patron Meritorious
I heard parts of this series this week on NPR and it is an eye opener, especially for those who have not dealt with a corporate entity such as Scientology, Inc. My take-away is that Congress will need to push the IRS into doing something about the abuse of church status. They referred to the so-called "14 rules" that help determine whether or not the organization qualifies (has services, parishioners, etc.). If the organization management decides to engage in Religious Cloaking to skip paying taxes, filing a 990 and so on, the IRS needs to ferret out that deception and deny the exemption. Even better would be to roll back to when the fraud first occurred and collect ALL the money owed from that point forward.
 

Type4_PTS

Diamond Invictus SP
I heard parts of this series this week on NPR and it is an eye opener, especially for those who have not dealt with a corporate entity such as Scientology, Inc. My take-away is that Congress will need to push the IRS into doing something about the abuse of church status. They referred to the so-called "14 rules" that help determine whether or not the organization qualifies (has services, parishioners, etc.). If the organization management decides to engage in Religious Cloaking to skip paying taxes, filing a 990 and so on, the IRS needs to ferret out that deception and deny the exemption. Even better would be to roll back to when the fraud first occurred and collect ALL the money owed from that point forward.

And even better than that...

Prosecute the offending organizations to the fullest extent of the law.
:thumbsup:
 

chipgallo

Patron Meritorious
And even better than that...

Prosecute the offending organizations to the fullest extent of the law.
:thumbsup:

IANAL but I believe you prosecute individuals, not organizations. There is a very short list of people who would take the fall on this one, eh?
 

Type4_PTS

Diamond Invictus SP
IANAL but I believe you prosecute individuals, not organizations. There is a very short list of people who would take the fall on this one, eh?

I believe that it depends upon the jurisdiction.

In one of the cases where Narconon was alleged to have committed insurance fraud, it could have been prosecuted because under Georgia law you can charge a corporation, but the District Attorney chose not to do so.
http://tonyortega.org/2013/09/25/na...t-down-in-georgia-has-court-loss-in-oklahoma/
 

secretiveoldfag

Silver Meritorious Patron
I don't claim to understand why the case was dismissed but it was disappointing, to say the least. But I hope next time (there will certainly BE a next time) the plaintiff's lawyer gets it right.
 

Type4_PTS

Diamond Invictus SP
How does a corporation do time in a federal prison?

By turning the corporate headquarters into a federal prison. :biggrin:

Just bar the windows and doors and add in some prison guards.

I believe that David Miscavinger is available as a consultant on this subject.
 
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