Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

The IRS, Churches and Politics

Flickr user wallyg
As if the IRS didn't have enough to do, what with handling its regular job of collecting taxes (with a shrinking workforce) and figuring out how to take on a big new role in implementing the health care overhaul, now the agency has to deal with churches itching for a fight over their tax-exempt status.

This fall, Reuters reports, hundreds of pastors across the country are expected to join in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a movement to defy IRS regulations on the tax-exempt status of churches and explicity urge members to vote for and against certain candidates for political office.  The growing movement puts the IRS in an awkward position, because the last thing it wants is to look overly political itself by taking on religious groups and their leaders. 

A lot of money is at stake. Federal tax breaks for donations to churches and exemptions from state and local property taxes total about $25 billion a  year, according to Reuters.

The IRS has made efforts to crack down on electioneering by church leaders in the past, and in 2004 launched a "Political Activities Compliance Initiative." But enforcement seems to have come to a halt in 2009. That's when Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, Minn., successfully appealed an IRS audit after its paster endorsed Michele Bachmann for a seat in Congress. 

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.