IRC § 501(c)(3) grants federal tax exemption to nonprofit organizations, such as public charities, private foundations, and private operating foundations. Religious organizations classified as churches receive added preferential treatment, specifically, exemption from certain filing requirements and statutory audit protection through § 7611. Section 527 grants most political organizations tax-exempt status, although they are subject to tax on some income, are not exempt from filing requirements, and do not receive tax-deductible donations. This extreme disparity in treatment may incentivize political organizations to reconfigure their missions and organizational structures to meet the litmus test for classification as a church. After the awarding of church status to some seemingly politically charged organizations, we investigate this issue and propose that it is time for the U.S. Congress and the Internal Revenue Service to revisit, evaluate, and revamp the existing system to prevent political organizations from abusing the tax provisions intended to benefit churches.

You do not currently have access to this content.