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View Diary: 71 Billion ? – Forget the Corporations, Tax the Churches (313 comments)

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  •  Very very good on your church... (9+ / 0-)

    but I see a very big difference between what your church did especially with affordable housing and city services. That seems like true charity to me.

    But trying to say that suppressing gay people is not partisan?  Really!!!

    It just doesn't seem right to me...

    •  Maybe partisan, but not political as a (1+ / 0-)
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      matter of tax law, where "political activity" = supporting a candidate.  Non-profs are allowed to engage in a certain amount of lobbying for and against specific laws and ballot measures.

      •  That's part of the problem- (3+ / 0-)
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        sunny skies, ozsea1, blueoasis

        I'm no tax expert and I've only skimmed the IRS regulations, but as I recall they are quite vague about what constitutes "a certain amount" of lobbying. Churches may not devote a substantial amount of time/resources to political efforts, but if there's a clear definition of "substantial", I didn't see it.

        •  So, the church itself reported (1+ / 0-)
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          $180,000 in "in-kind" donations.  "The contributions included tens of thousands of dollars for expenses such as airline tickets, hotel and restaurant bills and car-rental bills for top church officials such as L. Whitney Clayton, along with $96,849.31 worth of “compensated staff time” for church employees." (from the LA times).

          Additionally, individual Mormons, donated an estimated 20 million.  Which is their right as individuals.  But I wonder how much of that would have been donated had this not been spearheaded by the church.  Who knows.

          I just don't think this activity should be tax exempt.  Won't get anywhere in this climate, but I don't see why taxpayers should be supporting this...

    •  Seems like the only "difference"... (0+ / 0-) that you agree with what we did, and you disagree with what they did.

      Both my church and the churches that supported Prop 8 were taking a position on an issue of policy, and organizing within the church to support our position.

      The Episcopal Diocese of Washington, whether formally or informally, is likely to be part of the effort organizing to defend marriage equality in the state of Maryland when it comes up on the ballot this fall. Do you think that's acceptable?

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 06:48:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Neither should be considered exempt. (1+ / 0-)
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        In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying).  A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.

        Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure.  It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.

        Many groups set up separate non-exempt entirties specifically for lobbying.  Unions often do this.  Others, like the Sierra Club for example, are simply not tax-expempt.  

        If Churches are going to attempt to influence legislation, that activity should not be considered exempt.

        •  A "substantial part" is what's at issue there. (0+ / 0-)

          If the lobbying activities aren't a "substantial part" of the church's activities—which, to my understanding, is usually determined in terms of the proportion of the church's budget spent on such activities—then they are tax-exempt.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 09:32:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Too vague (0+ / 0-)

            The problem there is the "substantial part" test is too vague and subjective.  If Churches qualified for the expenditure test under 501 (h) though, total lobbying expenditures would still be capped at $1M, and grassroots lobbying (urging members of the general public to take political action in some way) would be limited to $250k, regardless of the size of the organization.

            Really though, I think the requirment should be that all lobbying is not exempt, and if any amount of lobbying is going to be done, beyond a very minimal amount, that should be done by establishing a separate non-exempt entitiy.  

      •  I would disagree James (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tommy Jones the Band, aliasalias

        I see a genuine social welfare/charitable issue in supporting affordable housing and city services.  As to marching in a parade...very cool...and nobody was raising funds. I also imagine affordable housing and the other services are available to anyone, regardless of their religious or sexual orientation.  

        Prop 8, on the other hand, victimizes a specific group of people that is condemned by the LDS church.  This is not something that benefits the populace as a whole, but rather greatly harms the lgbt community.  I do not see anything charitable in this at all.

        And, as I said, nothing will happen in the current overwrought climate.  I just do not see why the taxpayers should be on the hook for a belief many of do not share.

      •  and you know James I didn't really (0+ / 0-)

        answer all of your question, my apologies.  I am glad the Diocese is defending this... and truthfully I don't know how I feel about this.

        have to think about it.  

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