Tax-Exempt Ministries Avoid New Regulation

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Tax-Exempt Ministries Avoid New Regulation

Post by Sponge » Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:06 pm

Tax-Exempt Ministries Avoid New Regulation
New York times & religionnewsblog.com 8th Jan 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/08/us/po ... rches.html
http://www.religionnewsblog.com/25571/t ... regulation
A three-year investigation into financial improprieties at six Christian ministries whose television preaching bankrolled leaders’ lavish lifestyles has concluded with the formation of an independent commission to look into the lack of accountability by tax-exempt religious groups.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican and the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, issued a report saying that “self-correction” by churches and religious groups is preferable to legislative or regulatory solutions.


But his report found that only two of the six ministries cooperated with his investigation and volunteered to institute reforms. The others continued to hide behind tax laws that allow religious organizations to operate tax-free with little transparency or public accountability — a status that sets them apart from other nonprofit groups and charities that must file detailed annual reports of expenditures to the Internal Revenue Service.

“The challenge is to encourage good governance and best practices,” Senator Grassley said in a statement, “and so preserve confidence in the tax-exempt sector without imposing regulations that inhibit religious freedom or are functionally ineffective.”
[...]

The inquiry began at the request of evangelical Christians who shared their alarm with Senator Grassley about how the six ministries appeared to be using donations from the faithful to buy airplanes, lavish homes and jewelry, and to run profit-making businesses for leaders and their family members.


....more in article link....
CBS News video from 3 years ago....
Televangelist Investigation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfVZnrg7e_E

related discussion....
wwp: http://forums.whyweprotest.net/threads/ ... ies.67465/

Living in scientology luxury: The David Miscavige Empire, complete with custom motorcycle (flanked by Tom Cruise's bikes customised using cult labour).
Thanks to your tax dollars.
Image

One of the more recent OCMB threads on Miscavige's private inurement....
David Miscavige, Tom Cruise et. al.: Excessive Benefits
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=32783

Don Carlo
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Re: Tax-Exempt Ministries Avoid New Regulation

Post by Don Carlo » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:20 pm

Churches often already have their books on Quicken or other accounting software. With a few clicks, they can write up a balance sheet, an income statement, and a sources-and-use-of-funds statement. My Unitarian church annually gave a financial report to its members. I don't see why this is a hardship for churches. If they are too incompetent/illiterate to do bookkeeping, they could hire a part-time accountant easily, and if they don't have the money to keep track of their money, that's a risk factor for fraud !

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Re: Tax-Exempt Ministries Avoid New Regulation

Post by Sponge » Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:46 pm

Don Carlo wrote:Churches often already have their books on Quicken or other accounting software. With a few clicks, they can write up a balance sheet, an income statement, and a sources-and-use-of-funds statement. My Unitarian church annually gave a financial report to its members. I don't see why this is a hardship for churches. If they are too incompetent/illiterate to do bookkeeping, they could hire a part-time accountant easily, and if they don't have the money to keep track of their money, that's a risk factor for fraud !
Agreed. No organisation of any kind can function in the real world unless they already keep written track of their operating finances in some way. Those that get a huge tax advantage by default have more, not less, responsibility to show that everything is above board.

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Re: Tax-Exempt Ministries Avoid New Regulation

Post by Sponge » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:39 pm

More on this from the Orange county Register....

http://www.ocregister.com/news/televang ... aised.html
Grassley’s 61-page treatise touches on tax tussles ranging from the Church of Scientology’s struggle for churchhoood to Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren’s parsonage allowance, as well as the status of OC’s own Trinity Broadcasting (which does, indeed, file public tax returns). The report traces the rather fascinating history of why churches are tax-exempt — and why they do not necessarily have to be. That’s a game-changing (and, for churches, hair-raising) question that will hopefully be debated in Washington D.C. in coming years. We’ll bring you more on that in coming days.
The section on scientology begins at page 21 in that treatise...
http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/files/ ... -FINAL.pdf

Nice analysis. What happens now? As far as the cult is concernered, nothing probably.
Miscavige is not going to come out with his hands up and nobody from any official body is going to investigate off their own bat.

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Re: Tax-Exempt Ministries Avoid New Regulation

Post by Sponge » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:49 pm

Coming up today.........

https://www.ecfa.org/Events.aspx?EventID=23
January 14, 2011
Briefing on Senator Grassley's Staff Report and its Implications


Online/Telephone Briefing

60 Minute Session starting at 1:00 PM Eastern with questions and answers.


In this briefing, Michael Batts, chair of the newly formed Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations, and Dan Busby, president of ECFA, will provide an overview of the issues referred to ECFA by Senator Charles Grassley and the developments to-date regarding the planned work of the Commission. The Commission will be addressing issues that could potentially affect every house of worship and every member of the clergy in America. They include:

•whether churches should file the same highly-detailed annual information return that other nonprofits must file (Form 990)
•whether legislation is needed to curb abuses of the clergy housing allowance exclusion
•whether the current prohibition against political campaign intervention by churches and other nonprofits should be repealed or modified

You don’t want to miss this briefing and update on these important issues!


Briefing Speakers

Michael Batts
Michael Batts is a CPA and the managing shareholder of Batts Morrison Wales & Lee, PA, an Orlando-based accounting firm dedicated exclusively to serving nonprofit organizations and their affiliates throughout the United States.

Batts has more than 25 years of experience serving on nonprofit boards and advising nonprofit organizations on matters related to financial reporting, tax compliance and strategy, board governance, corporate structure, international activities and related issues. He is an accomplished author and national speaker on matters related to the nonprofit sector.

Batts has actively engaged in nonprofit legislative matters, having drafted and lobbied successfully for a number of state statutes for nonprofit tax exemptions and having served on the Legal Framework Workgroup of the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector, a legislative advisory panel formed at the request of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman. He previously served as chairman of the board of ECFA and currently serves on its board and executive committee.

Batts was recently appointed chair of the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations, a national commission convened by ECFA at the request of Senator Charles Grassley to address and advise him on accountability and policy issues related to religious organizations.



Dan Busby
Dan Busby is a CPA and the president of ECFA, a Washington, D.C.-area oversight and accreditation organization dedicated to setting high standards of accountability for Christ-centered organizations based in the United States.

Busby founded a CPA firm in Kansas City, was the controller of a major medical center and chief financial officer of a major religious denomination. He is an accomplished author and national speaker on matters related to the nonprofit sector, authoring hundreds of articles and four book titles.

For more than 20 years, Busby has been Zondervan’s author for church, nonprofit, and ministers tax and finance topics. He has received many honors, including being named by “The NonProfit Times” in 2010 as one of the 50 most influential nonprofit executives.

Busby serves ex-officio on the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations, a national commission convened by ECFA at the request of Senator Charles Grassley to address and advise him on accountability and policy issues related to religious organizations.


ECFA Members____ Registered Users
FREE________________ FREE

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Re: Tax-Exempt Ministries Avoid New Regulation

Post by Sponge » Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:59 pm

Just a reminder, you can register on the above ecfa.org website (only takes a minute and you don't need to fill in personal information, just an email to confirm), and listen to the above briefing for free.
https://www.ecfa.org/WebinarRecordings.aspx

Questions to the commission start at around the 35minute mark.

Edit: seperate download available, plus some points raised here:

ref: http://forums.whyweprotest.net/threads/ ... st-1361431
AnonLover, posting on WhyWeProtest.net, wrote:Jan15, 2011 ECFA Breifing on Grassley's Report and its implications:
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=IV67JC1R

synopsis from https://www.ecfa.org/WebinarRecordings.aspx
Briefing on Senator Grassley's Staff Report and its Implications
In this briefing, Michael Batts, chair of the newly formed Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations, and Dan Busby, president of ECFA, will provide an overview of the issues referred to ECFA by Senator Charles Grassley and the developments to-date regarding the planned work of the Commission. The Commission will be addressing issues that could potentially affect every house of worship and every member of the clergy in America. They include:

•whether churches should file the same highly-detailed annual information return that other nonprofits must file (Form 990)
•whether legislation is needed to curb abuses of the clergy housing allowance exclusion
•whether the current prohibition against political campaign intervention by churches and other nonprofits should be repealed or modified
You don’t want to miss this briefing and update on these important issues!
Starts out slow, but after 25min mark i got nearly 3 full pages of notes on issues to harpoon w/ letter writing efforts. The last 10mins is by far the most important as it gets into ECFA's stance against churches being required to file same tax forms as other non-profits.

Altho boring - this is indeed useful to see exactly whats pawned off on the new Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations vs. whats NOT been addressed in anyway with Grassley's lil tap dance in terms of legislation needed to address abuse of non-profit status for questionable organizations, and the lack of any steps being taken toward the original goal of Chuck's investigation - fraud prevention!

So working backwards, now that we know exactly what is being targeted with the ECFA Commission - the full blown report dox should be easier to slice & dice. FWIW, once i dig thru that abit - I'll recap my own letter writing strategy ITT for calling Grassley out on his gross lack of action items to do something with his findings in additional to his dog-n-pony show for what looks like nothing more than pass-the-buck shenanigans .

AnonLover
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Re: Tax-Exempt Ministries Avoid New Regulation

Post by AnonLover » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:24 am

bumpsies & lending sponge a cross posting assist... here's recent development summary from the wwp thread posted above.

I was stewing on how to either counter Grassley's shenanigans with his go-nowhere investigation & pass-the-buck to religous right (who cant do squat) report, OR leverage it somehow to our advantage, and as per Tikk's thread on inurement & his recent suggestion its time to pressure the IRS angle...

I had an idea!
re: http://forums.whyweprotest.net/threads/ ... st-1371513
I haz an idea. File a FOIA /r/ on the IRS to finally cough up the finalized closing agreement with the cult and pwn Grassley's remarks and other recent events as reason for override extending any exemptions/exclusions in light of public interest.

Assume the IRS will reject it, as they always have in the past. Then use that denial to turn it back on Grassley & his staff in an open letter press release requesting he intervene on FOIA (and other points) and take actionable steps in light of his investigation & recent do-nothing report (rather than just blowing smoke enabling input from a church advocacy group that has no power to do anything).

The following is a partial DRAFT form letter for the FOIA request, adapted from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) IRS Guidelines:
http://www.irs.gov/foia/article/0,,id=211443,00.html
then later as the idea evolved...
Mai final draft letter is done - jeebus its long. To long to post inline, see PDF version here:

EDIT5: UPDATED FOIA LETTER - GOOD2GO(?) FINAL DRAFT2
The reason its so long is to for future reference - I wanted be able to quote all the reasons i gave when we target Grassley directly and be able to state with reasonable outrage that the IRS still opted to deny the request. Those reasons = 6 major cracks i see for exploiting in multiple ways, listed as items A) thru E) in the middle of my diatribe.

Yes... i'm brazen enough to give the IRS their very own steps A thru E that will hopefully implant the cognition that they really need to give up the damn dox. And if not - there will be hell to pay now that mai lazers are charged.

Also: BWAAAHAHA... SUNSHINE WEEK 2011 — March 13-19 FTW!!!1!
http://www.sunshineweek.org/
^^Includes current version of finalized letter

Also this as of late this afternoon...
http://forums.whyweprotest.net/threads/ ... st-1372355
UPDATE: a namefag to file FOIA request has stepped fwd, /bows to xenubarb

I told her I'd finalized letter by early morning, so we can possibly get it sent out tomorrow.

To Recap, the gameplan so far is this:

1. Send IRS FOIA request calling for the release of closing settlement agreement by the end of Sunshine Week. CC key players
2. Apply pressure as we wait for IRS rejection? **
3. Get Rejection, Richochet it right bak into Senator's Grassley's lap with open letter presser
4. ...
5. Profit.

** Additional thought for step 2: Hold Sunshine Week Protests during the week of March 13-19 ?

Operation Sunshine Week FTW!!!1!

See also: http://www.sunshineweek.org/
^^We hope to get the letter sent off to the IRS tmo Feb 16. Feedback still welcome on it until news gets posted ITT that its been sent.

EDIT: whoops - didnt catch that this thread was in media reports section when i posted... sorries.
Last edited by AnonLover on Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

AnonLover
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Re: Tax-Exempt Ministries Avoid New Regulation

Post by AnonLover » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:56 pm

The work in progress stuff mentioned above, now done & launched as Operation Sunshine Week FTW!!1!

See new thread here:
viewtopic.php?f=166&t=34189

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