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The Atheists Are Suing The IRS Over Preferential Treatment for Churches

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http://www.atheists.org/legal/current/IRS

On December 12, 2012, American Atheists and two co-plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky demanding that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stop giving preferential treatment to churches and religious organizations via the process of receiving non-profit tax-exempt status under the Internal Revue Code (IRC) procedures and definitions.IRS

Groups like American Atheists receive tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) but, because the organization is not classified as religious, it costs American Atheists and other secular non-profits significantly more money each year to maintain that status. In this lawsuit, American atheists and the other plaintiffs are demanding that all tax-exempt organizations, including those characterized as religious by the IRS, have the same requirements to achieve and maintain tax-exempt status.

In order to qualify for nonprofit tax-exempt status, any religious or secular organization must demonstrate it exists to benefit the public. After that basic element is established, religious non-profits are almost always declared automatically tax-exempt under the current IRC rules and definitions. However, secular non-profits face a lengthy application and a fee, which can be as high as $850. 

Religious organizations and churches are treated differently from secular organizations. The exemptions are applied in a way that discriminates solely on the basis of whether an entity’s members express beliefs and practices accepted as religious. The IRS treats your organization better if you profess belief in a supernatural deity.

The lawsuit also covers discrepancies in how secular and religious organizations are treated in maintaining their tax-exempt statuses. Secular nonprofits complete Form 990 annually, which details information about finances, donors, volunteers, and personnel; the IRS estimates it requires 211 hours to complete the Form 990, which is then public information. Religious nonprofits are exempted from filing the Form 990, so there is no public record about their finances, donors, volunteers, or personnel.

This requirement can put organizations like American Atheists at a fundraising disadvantage compared to religious groups because many people choose not to reveal their atheism for fear of prejudice and discrimination.

American Atheists and its co-plaintiffs are asking the Court to find that such disparity of treatment between religious and secular non-profit organizations is unconstitutional and require the IRS to make the tax-exempt filing process uniform for all nonprofit organizations.

Government Motion to Dismiss

On June 7, 2013, the United States government filed a motion to dismiss our lawsuit. In their filing, the Government, among other things, challenged American Atheists' standing to bring such a suit, alleging that we had suffered no real harm from their preferential treatment of religious groups in tax filings. 

On August 6, 2013, American Atheists filed a response to the Government's motion to dismiss

The case is currently before the United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky.

by on Sep. 17, 2013 at 7:24 AM
Replies (191-200):
romalove
by Roma on Sep. 19, 2013 at 7:11 AM


Quoting Bookwormy:

Roma, what do you think of what SuDoNim, a CPA, wrote below:

I think the problem is that people (on both sides) are having a hard time seeing past their own biases. An UU church, for example, is branch of the UU Association; when a new UU church opens, the UU Association vouches for it's charitable status. It's the same as if a secular charitable organization were to open a new branch; the branch would have de facto tax exempt status, because it is part of an already established charitable organization. But if an independent or non-denominational church opens, it is treated the same as a secular non-profit organization; ie, it too must apply for tax exempt status.

Smaller charities (secular or religious, public or private) are also not required to file for tax exempt status; any charity that takes in less than $5000 per year in donations is given this same preferential treatment.

I am trying to access the complaint papers again so I can more fully address this.  It isn't that I doubt her, it's that I don't know that this is what the complain actually addresses.

I will get back to you.

candlegal
by Judy on Sep. 19, 2013 at 7:11 AM

They have just as much right to vote the way they choose as you do.  

Quoting romalove:


Quoting candlegal:

Good and I hope more and more people of faith get involved in politics.

Quoting -Celestial-:

How many more mega churches need to pop up. How many more faith healers coming out to pray the gay away. How many more need to be sitting in on city councils telling lil Joey he remembered baptizing him as a child and telling him the proposed pool hall would bring sin to the town.  Being involved in politics. They're everywhere. Get a grip.

Quoting candlegal:

I am just wondering  how many of the conservative organizations that have been targeted by the IRS are going to sue.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting candlegal:

Imagine that.

I am sure you aren't shocked that an atheist group is suing.

Do you have an opinion on the unfairness they are complaining about?




Yes, because nothing would do better for America than a nice theocracy.



romalove
by Roma on Sep. 19, 2013 at 7:17 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting candlegal:

They have just as much right to vote the way they choose as you do.  

Quoting romalove:


Quoting candlegal:

Good and I hope more and more people of faith get involved in politics.

Quoting -Celestial-:

How many more mega churches need to pop up. How many more faith healers coming out to pray the gay away. How many more need to be sitting in on city councils telling lil Joey he remembered baptizing him as a child and telling him the proposed pool hall would bring sin to the town.  Being involved in politics. They're everywhere. Get a grip.

Quoting candlegal:

I am just wondering  how many of the conservative organizations that have been targeted by the IRS are going to sue.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting candlegal:

Imagine that.

I am sure you aren't shocked that an atheist group is suing.

Do you have an opinion on the unfairness they are complaining about?




Yes, because nothing would do better for America than a nice theocracy.



Of course they do.

That doesn't address what I said, which is what scares the crap out of me when it comes to you and people who think like you do.

But I also think most of the stuff that I would find scary for you to vote on shouldn't be up for a vote.

I don't think you should get to decide about someone else's medical decisions about her body, or whether someone else should have the same marital rights that you do.

I think that's unconstitutional, and shouldn't ever be put up for a vote.

The thing that amuses me most is that your position is most harmful to YOU.  For me, to live under "your" idea of a theocracy or someone else's religious idea of a theocracy, it's all the horrible same.

For you, it would only be OK if it was "your" religious theocracy, but your position opens the door for it to someday be someone else's.


candlegal
by Judy on Sep. 19, 2013 at 7:21 AM

I guess it is what it is.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting candlegal:

They have just as much right to vote the way they choose as you do.  

Quoting romalove:


Quoting candlegal:

Good and I hope more and more people of faith get involved in politics.

Quoting -Celestial-:

How many more mega churches need to pop up. How many more faith healers coming out to pray the gay away. How many more need to be sitting in on city councils telling lil Joey he remembered baptizing him as a child and telling him the proposed pool hall would bring sin to the town.  Being involved in politics. They're everywhere. Get a grip.

Quoting candlegal:

I am just wondering  how many of the conservative organizations that have been targeted by the IRS are going to sue.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting candlegal:

Imagine that.

I am sure you aren't shocked that an atheist group is suing.

Do you have an opinion on the unfairness they are complaining about?




Yes, because nothing would do better for America than a nice theocracy.



Of course they do.

That doesn't address what I said, which is what scares the crap out of me when it comes to you and people who think like you do.

But I also think most of the stuff that I would find scary for you to vote on shouldn't be up for a vote.

I don't think you should get to decide about someone else's medical decisions about her body, or whether someone else should have the same marital rights that you do.

I think that's unconstitutional, and shouldn't ever be put up for a vote.

The thing that amuses me most is that your position is most harmful to YOU.  For me, to live under "your" idea of a theocracy or someone else's religious idea of a theocracy, it's all the horrible same.

For you, it would only be OK if it was "your" religious theocracy, but your position opens the door for it to someday be someone else's.



stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Sep. 19, 2013 at 8:14 AM
2 moms liked this
I disagree. How about those tv mega churches where the people who run them live high on the hog while collecting donations from people on fixed incomes or political "religious" non profits which only exist to lobby and influence legislation? This isn't only about the town church with a free soup kitchen.

Quoting luckystars2012:

Being a church or religious nonprofit is pretty cut and dry.




Quoting romalove:


Quoting luckystars2012:

Of course they have more scrutiny, they have more to prove, which means more paperwork, which means more legwork involved for those who have to process it, which explains extra fees.





Still not seeing a problem.








Quoting romalove:


Quoting luckystars2012:

They have to prove they are a non profit. I don't see the issue.











Quoting romalove:


Quoting luckystars2012:

I think religious entities are granted non profit status almost automatically for a reason, because they are non profit.














Quoting romalove:


Quoting luckystars2012:

Oh for fucks sake.

You think the atheists should pay fees for being a non-profit that religious non-profits don't have to pay?







But that's not what this is about.

There are many non-religious non-profits.  They have to pay some fees that religious non-profits are exempt from.

That's what the lawsuit is about, equity for all the non-profits.





The issue is religious non-profits don't pay certain fees that other non-profits pay.  Further, there are more forms for those other non-profits to fill out and more scrutiny.

There is an inequity in treatment by the IRS.

What is it you don't understand?




That's a shame that you are willing to look the other way over inequities.

In your mind, just declaring yourself a church or a religious non-profit means automatic approval LOL.


luckystars2012
by Silver Member on Sep. 19, 2013 at 9:27 AM
You realize that religious institutions don't get to "lobby" for anyone right?


Quoting stacymomof2:

I disagree. How about those tv mega churches where the people who run them live high on the hog while collecting donations from people on fixed incomes or political "religious" non profits which only exist to lobby and influence legislation? This isn't only about the town church with a free soup kitchen.



Quoting luckystars2012:

Being a church or religious nonprofit is pretty cut and dry.






Quoting romalove:


Quoting luckystars2012:

Of course they have more scrutiny, they have more to prove, which means more paperwork, which means more legwork involved for those who have to process it, which explains extra fees.







Still not seeing a problem.











Quoting romalove:


Quoting luckystars2012:

They have to prove they are a non profit. I don't see the issue.














Quoting romalove:


Quoting luckystars2012:

I think religious entities are granted non profit status almost automatically for a reason, because they are non profit.

















Quoting romalove:


Quoting luckystars2012:

Oh for fucks sake.

You think the atheists should pay fees for being a non-profit that religious non-profits don't have to pay?








But that's not what this is about.

There are many non-religious non-profits.  They have to pay some fees that religious non-profits are exempt from.

That's what the lawsuit is about, equity for all the non-profits.






The issue is religious non-profits don't pay certain fees that other non-profits pay.  Further, there are more forms for those other non-profits to fill out and more scrutiny.

There is an inequity in treatment by the IRS.

What is it you don't understand?





That's a shame that you are willing to look the other way over inequities.

In your mind, just declaring yourself a church or a religious non-profit means automatic approval LOL.



Bookwormy
by Platinum Member on Sep. 19, 2013 at 10:32 PM
2 moms liked this
Theocracy its such a slippery slope. Look at the ever so democratic Israel. Who is a Jew,& has right of return, how to marry, women can not divorce their husbands, funerals are all orthodox, etc. Are you Catholic? What if in the US theocracy Catholicism isn't considered Christian like Reform converts aren't considered Jews by Israel? It is what it is is a dangerous position. Who will be here when they come for you if you didn't speak up when they came for everyone else?

Quoting candlegal:

I guess it is what it is.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting candlegal:

They have just as much right to vote the way they choose as you do.  

Quoting romalove:


Quoting candlegal:

Good and I hope more and more people of faith get involved in politics.

Quoting -Celestial-:

How many more mega churches need to pop up. How many more faith healers coming out to pray the gay away. How many more need to be sitting in on city councils telling lil Joey he remembered baptizing him as a child and telling him the proposed pool hall would bring sin to the town.  Being involved in politics. They're everywhere. Get a grip.

Quoting candlegal:

I am just wondering  how many of the conservative organizations that have been targeted by the IRS are going to sue.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting candlegal:

Imagine that.

I am sure you aren't shocked that an atheist group is suing.

Do you have an opinion on the unfairness they are complaining about?




Yes, because nothing would do better for America than a nice theocracy.



Of course they do.

That doesn't address what I said, which is what scares the crap out of me when it comes to you and people who think like you do.

But I also think most of the stuff that I would find scary for you to vote on shouldn't be up for a vote.

I don't think you should get to decide about someone else's medical decisions about her body, or whether someone else should have the same marital rights that you do.

I think that's unconstitutional, and shouldn't ever be put up for a vote.

The thing that amuses me most is that your position is most harmful to YOU.  For me, to live under "your" idea of a theocracy or someone else's religious idea of a theocracy, it's all the horrible same.

For you, it would only be OK if it was "your" religious theocracy, but your position opens the door for it to someday be someone else's.



Elyssa414
by Member on Sep. 19, 2013 at 10:43 PM
I hope the atheists win. Though I doubt that we, as a people, have evolved enough for that yet. Someday.
v2011
by Member on Sep. 19, 2013 at 11:04 PM
1 mom liked this

Right.

So keep your mouth shut and fall in line? Not exactly the values this country were founded on.  Certianly not a way I would choose to live.


If you aren't going to read the thread why bother posting? Other than to provoke some sort of arguement which is counter productive. 


Quoting LAHnTAH0812:

I didn't even read it. all I hear is "wah, butthurt'

maybe if they didn't cry it constantly I'd give them the benefit of the doubt.



jllcali
by on Sep. 19, 2013 at 11:09 PM
1 mom liked this
All non profits should have to pay the same fees to have tax exempt status. Religion shouldn't get special treatment. I also think it's bunk churches don't have to prove they are serving the public.
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