Tag Archives: IRS

Pastors endorsing McCain over the Pulpit

This is hardly news to me because I recall this kind of activity during other elections, most memorably, the 2004 election when people were urged to “vote your conscience”. This is, however, a blatant attempt to override the 54 year old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt entities. I’m assuming these 30+ plus pastors are endorsing McCain because of his views on abortion and homosexuality. There’s an interesting video on CNN. Let’s see how they fare with the IRS, because I also remember Bush going after the NAACP for criticizing the Bush Administration. Oh wait, I think the “vote your conscience” pastors got by just fine… I’m sure there are pastors endorsing Obama, but I’m sure they aren’t crazy enough to taunt the IRS. Chris Rock is right, Republicans just make up their own rules…

The Washington Post

CROWN POINT, Ind., Sept. 28 — Defying a federal law that prohibits U.S. clergy from endorsing political candidates from the pulpit, an evangelical Christian minister told his congregation Sunday that voting for Sen. Barack Obama would be evidence of “severe moral schizophrenia.”

The Rev. Ron Johnson Jr. told worshipers that the Democratic presidential nominee’s positions on abortion and gay partnerships exist “in direct opposition to God’s truth as He has revealed it in the Scriptures.” Johnson showed slides contrasting the candidates’ views but stopped short of endorsing Obama’s Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain.

Johnson and 32 other pastors across the country set out Sunday to break the rules, hoping to generate a legal battle that will prompt federal courts to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.

The ministers contend they have a constitutional right to advise their worshipers how to vote. As Johnson put it during a break between sermons, “The point that the IRS says you can’t do it, I’m saying you’re wrong.”

The campaign, organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a socially conservative legal consortium based in Arizona, has gotten the attention of the Internal Revenue Service. The agency, alerted by opponents, pledged to “monitor the situation and take action as appropriate.”

Each campaign season brings allegations that a member of the clergy has crossed a line set out in a 1954 amendment to the tax code that says nonprofit, tax-exempt entities may not “participate in, or intervene in . . . any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.”

This time, the church action is concerted. Yet while the ministers say the rules stifle religious expression, their opponents contend that the tax laws are essential to protect the separation of church and state. They say political speech should not be supported by a tax break for the churches or the worshipers who are contributing to a political cause. Continue reading

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Wesley Snipes going to jail…

In my heart of hearts, I truly believe that the IRS is the one entity that you don’t want to mess with. Be strong Wes! I guess he won’t be getting his tax stimulus rebate check…

OCALA, Florida (CNN) — Actor Wesley Snipes was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for three misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns — the maximum requested by federal prosecutors.

“Snipes’ long prison sentence should send a loud and crystal clear message to all tax defiers that if they engage in similar tax defier conduct, they face joining him,” said Assistant Attorney General Nathan J. Hochman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman said the law is clear on taxes.

“There is no secret formula that eliminates a person’s tax obligations, nor are there any special exceptions,” he said.

“The majority of Americans pay their taxes timely and accurately. Those who willfully violate the law must be held accountable.”

In a civil suit, the IRS is seeking repayment of all taxes and interest from Snipes.

Federal prosecutors said the actor for nearly a decade escaped paying more than $15 million in income tax returns by sending money to overseas accounts, though they acknowledged in court that the amount is in dispute.

Before the sentencing, the actor asked the court to show mercy and offered three checks totaling $5 million as a gesture of good will.

Federal prosecutors diverted the checks to the U.S. Treasury — which accepted the payment — but it wasn’t enough.

“It’s essentially a down payment, but a fraction of what he owes,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Scotland Morris.

Snipes’ attorneys — who had argued he should get probation or house arrest — said they will appeal the sentence.

The actor, who showed little reaction, gave a loud “wow” to the crowd as he exited the courtroom.

A jury convicted Snipes on the misdemeanor charges February 1, but he was acquitted of more serious felony charges of tax fraud and conspiracy. Jurors accepted his argument that he was innocently duped by errant tax advisers.

Defense attorneys in court documents suggested that to sentence Snipes harshly would be to disregard the jury’s verdict.

But prosecutors, in their sentencing recommendation, said the jurors’ decision “has been portrayed in the mainstream media as a ‘victory’ for Snipes. The troubling implication of such coverage for the millions of average citizens who are aware of this case is that the rich and famous Wesley Snipes has ‘gotten away with it.’ In the end the criminal conduct of Snipes must not be seen in such a light.”

Snipes, who has starred in dozens of movies, including the “Blade” trilogy, “Major League” and “Murder at 1600” had received the support of many of Hollywood friends. Defense attorneys filed 39 pages of testimonials, letters from a Hollywood “Who’s Who” list and also high school friends and his employees.

Actors Denzel Washington and Woody Harrelson, as well as television judges Joe Brown and Greg Mathis, submitted letters to the judge on Snipes’ behalf.

In his letter, Washington said Snipes was “like a tree — a mighty oak … Many who know him have witnessed the fruit of his labors, have sat in his shade and even been protected by his presence. I am proud of him, proud to call him a fellow thespian and most importantly, proud to call him a friend.”

Brown, who addressed the court on Thursday, likened Snipes to legendary actors, including Sidney Poitier, and said, “I have been something of a mentor to the young man.”

Another witness described how Snipes had helped train personnel from 33 airlines on safety techniques after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, without seeking pay or media attention.

“This man is one of the most honorable men of character,” said Robert Wall, CEO and president of World Black Belt, a martial arts training firm. “He’s made mistakes, but I’m so impressed with the depth of his character.”

 

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IRS investigating Obama’s church

The IRS is investigating the United Church of Christ due to a speech Obama gave at their national convention last year after he became a candidate for president. Obama belongs to the 1.2 million-member Protestant group through his Chicago congregation headed by Jeremiah Wright.

The Washington Post reports that according to a copy of an IRS letter that the church received Monday, the IRS is launching the inquiry “because reasonable belief exists that the United Church of Christ has engaged in political activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status.” Under federal law, churches are barred from becoming directly or indirectly involved in campaigns of political candidates.  UCC has denied any wrongdoing.

Eurweb reportsThe IRS said in the letter that it was concerned about articles posted on the church’s website and on other sites stating that Obama had addressed nearly 10,000 people at the event. The agency also said Obama volunteers had staffed campaign tables “outside the center to promote his campaign.”

     Obama, a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, spoke about faith and public life at the denomination’s June, 2007 General Synod in Hartford, Conn. UCC had invited Obama to speak a year before he announced he was running for president because of his involvement in the denomination, said Rev. J. Bennett Guess, a spokesman for the Cleveland-based denomination. The church leaders say that they consulted lawyers before the event and even told the crowd that the senator was not talking on campaign-related issues.

You can’t even speak at your OWN church!  Wow.  You know black folks love their churches.  Maybe he just forgot about the rules. 

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Creflo Dollar refusing to comply with Congressional inquires?

EVERYBODY has to pay the government.  As a former member of a name it and claim it, money mongering church…I know that the federal government must be able to smell the many cash cow churches that are ripe for a tax shakedown milking.  I hope they take these pastors for broke if they have not been giving Uncle Sam his just due.  God knows there is an awful lot of money being given to these churches in the name of God.  Someone should be holding them accountable…why not Congress.  If you are not using the church’s money to feed the poor, spread the gospel, etc…what are you doing with it.  If you are doing the Lord’s work…for real…why would it matter who sees your books.  Rolls Royce for the Lord…yeah right!  There needs to be a separation between church and “estate”, if you know what I mean!!!

From BET.com – Televangelist Creflo Dollar, who, under pressure from a leading U.S. senator, acknowledged that his Atlanta-based mega-church raked in a cool $69 million last year, is refusing to submit to any more congressional inquiries into his church’s finances without a subpoena from the IRS.

Dollar, pastor of World Changers Church International in College Park, Ga., is one of six TV preachers who were asked by Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, to submit full financial documents, showing salaries, luxury purchases, and even gifts to other preachers and the individuals who comprise their boards.  The churches, whose pastors preach that God wants Christians to be wealthy, include Bishop Eddie Long, the only other African-American being probed and the leader of a huge church and ministry in Lithonia, Ga. Continue reading

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