In February of this year, I wrote about how a group of secular organizations had filed a suit arguing that it was unfair that they had to file Form 990 as part of their tax returns but religious organizations did not. I described then the onerous reporting requirements that all non-profits other than churches have to annually provide to the IRS.
I explained in that post how it is the absence of this requirement that enables the heads of these religious groups to hide how they raise and spend money and enables them to live lavish lives while supposedly remaining a non-profit.
That case went trial yesterday before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington. Kimberly Winston writes:
If they prevail, it will change the tax-exempt status of churches and other religious organizations, and require the same transparency of donors, salaries and other expenditures that secular nonprofits must currently meet.
The case centers around who must file IRS Form 990, an annual reporting statement that provides information on a group’s mission, programs and finances.
Current tax law requires all tax-exempt organizations to file a Form 990 financial report — except churches and church-related organizations. A few state, political and educational organizations are exempt as well if their annual revenues fall below certain amounts.
I am hopeful about the outcome of this case because the whole thing is unfair on its face. The only problem as I see it is if the judge rules that requiring churches to disclose like this results in excessive entanglement of religion with government.
That is a bit if a stretch.