"Let everyone who is Godly pray to you while you may be found"  (Psalm 32:6)

THE CAPITOL HILL PRAYER ALERT

March 11, 2000

IRS MAY TRACK ACTIVIST CHURCHES
Law Could Require Church & Charity Reporting

And they÷commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things that we have seen and heard (Acts 4:17-20).

OVERVIEW:

The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 was meant to end the agency's egregious abuses against American citizens; but if lawmakers do not take immediate action to nix new proposals, the new and supposedly "customer-friendly" IRS could instead turn out to be an even more frightening agency for churches and charities.

  • Rev. Lou Sheldon, Chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, wrote in a memo to pastors, "There is a clear potential that every time a church asks its members to call or write their elected officials on a bill, they would be required to report that activity to the IRS÷ It would be necessary to report to the IRS every time a church: 1. [seeks] a conditional use permit from a city or county board for changes to their property; 2. [seeks] a new land use permit; 3. [is asked to write] their congressman, senator, etc.; or [is asked] to contact an elected official."

According to "Let America Speak Coalition," a coalition of mostly liberal nonprofits and a few churches, the provisions the Joint Committee on Taxation has proposed would require tax-exempt organizations to:

  • Provide [the IRS] "a detailed description of the legislation addressed in their efforts and manner in which organizations engaged in [them]."

  • Report monies spent under the "self-defense" exception to the lobbying rules. (Tax-exempt groups are allowed to lobby to protect themselves against actions that threaten their own rights or existence)

  • Report expenditures for nonpartisan research and analysis if it includes a "limited 'call to action.' " Tax-exempt groups can present a "full and fair" discussion of an issue if they provide for members to draw their own conclusions. Under the new rules, if their discussion includes an "indirect" call to action, e.g., a list of legislators who will be voting on an issue, they would be required to report.

"In short, these proposals would create burdensome new record-keeping requirements÷ increase÷reporting requirements, and have a chilling impact on nonprofit participation in the public policy process" (http://www.ombwatch.org/las/jct.html).

Many pastors are intimidated by existing IRS rules from dealing with "political" issues, even though they have a clear moral and Biblical mandate to do so (Ez 3 & 33). These rules would probably not be used against liberal groups that lobby extensively; rather it is likely that conservative ministries and churches will be singled out for harassment and intimidation.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray:

Heavenly Father, ARREST the angry new assault against your Church by liberal Democrats, "moderate" Republicans, Independents & others. STRIKE DOWN these new IRS proposals. May churches be EXEMPT from new measures to control non-profit groups. Help Your people, especially pastors, to stand for TRUTH, even though threatened by loss of tax-exempt status. Whatever the future may hold, help Your people to OBEY You (Nu 10:35; Es 9:24-25; Ps 12:5-7; 59:1-4; 64:1-10; Zec 2:8; Jn 10:11-12; Acts 4:17-20; 1 Tim 3:15).

(To submit comments on these proposals to the House Ways and Means Committee, you are asked to send six single-spaced paper copies and one copy in MS Word or Word Perfect on a 3 1/2 inch disk, labeled with your name, address and date. Must be received by the end of day, March 15. Send to A.L. Singleton, Chief of Staff, Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, 1102 Longworth Building, Washington, DC 20515. No e-mails accepted.)


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God bless!"


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