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Tax exempt why?
Of everything our tax money goes to, this ought to be the least popular. We pay for their protests, we pay for their website, we pay for their hate, in the form of their tax exemption.

Unlike most churches, they are little more than their family. Unlike most churches, they take no positive role in their community, or towards any charity of note. Unlike most churches, they have one message - denigration and vitriol.

So can we kick them out of the tax exempt club, already? (Whitehouse.gov Petition Link)

Please?

Also up on Reddit, for more attention.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (0+ / 0-)

    Give fire to a man, and he will be warm for a day. Set him on fire, and he will be warm for life.

    by Xeriar on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 03:01:30 AM PST

  •  they haven't done anything to violate (4+ / 0-)

    the terms of thei exemption as far as we can tell.

  •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick

    they should not enjoy tax exempt status.

    How do you do it? What is the legal maneuver that differentiates one "church" from any other "church"?

    Charitable and religious organizations
    Many tax systems provide complete exemption from tax for recognized charitable organizations. Such organizations may include religious organizations (temples, mosques, churches, etc.), fraternal organizations (including social clubs), public charities (e.g., organizations serving homeless persons), or any of a broad variety of organizations considered to serve public purposes.
    The U.S. system exempts from Federal and many state income taxes[5] the income of organizations that have qualified for such exemption. Qualification requires that the organization be created and operated for one of a long list of tax exempt purposes,[6] which includes more than 28 types of organizations and also requires, for most types of organizations, that the organization apply for tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service,[7] or be a religious or apostolic organization.[8][9] Note that the U.S. system does not distinguish between various kinds of tax exempt entities (such as educational versus charitable) for purposes of granting exemption, but does make such distinctions with respect to allowing a tax deduction for contributions.[10]
    Link

    Since his church is so small, and consists of his family and a few like-minded hate filled "citizens", even if the IRS does yank his exemption, Phelps can simply clone another name and start a new tax exempt "church" called Baptist Westboro Church" or whatever.

    I am in total agreement, in fact, I would take it a dozen steps further and just have them all, every one of them, taken to Guantanamo as enemies of the state.

    But, alas, they are citizens protected by the first amendment and the I.R.S. and in a free society there are going to be those that take advantage of liberty and twist it to their advantage.

    Why do the Phelps family enjoy equal protection under the law?

    Because this is America and even scumbags like them have rights.

    Myself, I'm waiting for the day they are surrounded by an angry mob of para-military mercenaries wearing rainbow ribbons and enjoying their Second Amendment privilege to bear arms. I would bet my last nickel that would be the last time they show up at a funeral.

    We've been spelling it wrong all these years. It's actually: PRO-GOP-ANDA

    by Patriot4peace on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 03:54:25 AM PST

    •  Actually it's why I prefer making a specification (0+ / 0-)

      As the petition specifies - requiring actual charitable work, being inclusive of the surrounding community (or at least contributing), not using their functions primarily to denigrate others. These notions are not necessarily vague. We can draw lines around the intent of what churches claim to do and note that Westboro has seriously crossed them.

      And I wouldn't ship them off to be tortured. I think they just need to be forgotten. If they suddenly lose a bunch of money, it will be harder for them to remain in the public eye.

      Give fire to a man, and he will be warm for a day. Set him on fire, and he will be warm for life.

      by Xeriar on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 04:01:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  or he can morph into a nonprofit such as a 501c3 (0+ / 0-)

      there are many dodges available in the tax code

  •  problem is that political activism by churches is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew F Cockburn

    allowed so long as it is about issues and not about individual candidates or races so they have not crossed the line, odious though they are.

    RW evangelists are pushing this envelope, encouraging ministers to endorse candidates from the pulpit and to even use Scripture to bolster the reason to vote for particular candidates.  There is a RW myth that the IRS is dragging preachers from the pulpit for endorsing candidates and the wingers even tried to organize a Sunday of mass disobedience to thumb their noses at the IRS and feds.
    http://www.religiondispatches.org/...
    (btw RD is a good site to read daily or at least frequently)

  •  And these Scumbags.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick

    Are planning to picket the Conn. Shooting victims' funerals

    •  You read this somewhere? (0+ / 0-)

      do you have a link?

      Because if they show up in CT, it will unleash a fury they have never seen before.

      We've been spelling it wrong all these years. It's actually: PRO-GOP-ANDA

      by Patriot4peace on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 04:29:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, they're threatening to. All over twitter. (0+ / 0-)

      Whether they show or not is debatable. Often, the WBC grifters say they'll show, get the town in an uproar, then don't appear.

      I ♥ President Obama. ~ Yes, we did. Again.
      NOW: Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO Grand Bargain.
      Rich pay a bit more. DoD take a bit less. End war on Afghanistan sooner.

      by OleHippieChick on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 04:51:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good Article at Slate (5+ / 0-)

    Link

    Apparently this is not a new idea, and the IRS has turned their all seeing eye towards Kansas at least once before.

    The WBC has not escaped taxation entirely. In 2008, a Kansas State Board of Tax Appeals ruled that their truck, a 2002 Ford F-150 used to transport signs to protests, was too involved in their "political activities and secular philosophy, which constitute a significant part of [the church's] picketing activities" to be tax-exempt. If an IRS lawyer really wanted to go after the WBC, he could point out that most of the 100 or so congregants are members of the Phelps family, and that a number of them work for the family's successful law firm—which makes them seem more like a home-grown activist group with a vested financial interest in political outcomes than a religious organization. If a church seems to operate for mostly nonreligious purposes (i.e., political work or personal profit), the IRS can revoke 501(c)(3) status.
    If a church seems to operate for mostly nonreligious purposes (i.e., political work or personal profit), the IRS can revoke 501(c)(3) status.
    Interesting this didn't come out nationally during the last Presidential campaign, the shaky tax exempt status of the Mormons:
    Oddly enough, it may be easier to get the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) into tax trouble than Westboro. The Mormon Church exhorted its members to use their time and resources to support the 2008 anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 campaign in California, arguably crossing the 501(c)(3) line. Though Prop 8 protesters have organized a number of petitions demanding an investigation, the IRS has not yet moved against the LDS.  
    I'll sign the petition, but since Phelps is an intelligent lawyer I'm not going to hold my breath that it will result in shutting his money funnel down.

    I would much rather see Kansas pass a same sex marriage law, and watch how many the Phelps Klan (sp. intentional) start getting their panties in a wad wringing their hands and doubting their religion.

    We've been spelling it wrong all these years. It's actually: PRO-GOP-ANDA

    by Patriot4peace on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 04:22:08 AM PST

    •  Fred himself isn't running the show any longer, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OleHippieChick

      and is probably too senile to do so.

      His family has taken over and while still lawyered up, I do not believe society should make things so easy for them.

      Thank you though. The only way this is going to at least harangue them is for people to speak up about it.

      Give fire to a man, and he will be warm for a day. Set him on fire, and he will be warm for life.

      by Xeriar on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 04:27:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The government can't single them out (5+ / 0-)

    because of their odious speech.  That's a basic constitutional principle.  If they meet the legal requirements of a 501(c)(3), they get the same tax treatment as any other 501(c)(3).  And even singling them out for more exacting scrutiny because of their speech or their views would be patently unconstitutional.  Our government cannot act against people, or treat them differently, because of the content of the speech.  While I think that WBC is horrible, I support the First Amendment.

    Unfortunately, the price we as a society pay for our own free speech rights is that we have to put up with horrible speech.  Otherwise the right is meaningless.  

    I hope that if they follow through on their statements regarding the Sandy Hook funerals, that decent people stage from the area counter demonstrations between them and the grieving families, showing love and support for the families.  

  •  No church should enjoy that status (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cyeko, Andrew F Cockburn, skrekk

    Businesses that deal in real things of value have to pay taxes, so why shouldn't businesses whose whole model and product line is deception and fantasy?  There is no constitutional imperative for tax exemption for churches: paying taxes is a general obligation and it's not discriminatory not to exempt someone from a general obligation.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:46:53 AM PST

  •  I don't think it is possible to define "church" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    enhydra lutris

    that way. I think the way our tax code is written, if you say you are a church, you get to be a church.

    I think ALL churches should be treated as the businesses they are. All income is subject to tax, and money expended in charitable donations gets the tax exemption, just like every other business.

    Why should churches be the only business that gets off scott free?

    I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. - Kos

    My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:49:18 AM PST

  •  Assumes facts not in evidence (0+ / 0-)
    Unlike most churches, they are little more than their family. Unlike most churches, they take no positive role in their community, or towards any charity of note. Unlike most churches, they have one message - denigration and vitriol.
    Also, irrelevant even if true.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:14:21 AM PST

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