(RNS) — An agnostic abatement alignment has sued the Internal Revenue Service, claiming its tax-exempt cachet was unfairly revoked.
IRS admiral say the accumulation bootless to book appropriate anniversary advice to the bureau for three years.
But the group’s leaders say churches do the aforementioned affair all the time and are never penalized.
Nonbelief Relief, the accommodating arm of the Freedom from Adoration Foundation, filed a complaint Thursday (Oct. 11) in the U.S. District Cloister for the District of Columbia, afterwards its tax-exempt cachet was automatically revoked.
The Aug. 20 IRS aishment apprehension said the abatement alignment bootless to book an “information return” — accepted as a Anatomy 990 — for three afterwards years.
In its complaint, the alms said it “objects to accepting to book Anatomy 990 while churches and church-related organizations do not.”
Annie Laurie Gaylor, admiral of the alms and FFRF co-president, said the clothing is “part and parcel” of an advancing acknowledged action of the Wisconsin-based agnostic accumulation that has challenged an “IRS cipher that abnormally advantages adoration over nonreligion.”
Gaylor said Nonbelief Relief, which has accurate groups such as Doctors After Borders and provided scholarships to a affected affairs for atheists, a the IRS back it approved tax-exempt cachet in 2015 that it would not be filing the accepted 990s that abounding charities submit.
“We knew that there would be consequences, best likely,” she told Adoration News Service the day afore the complaint was filed. “We’re aloof accomplishing the aforementioned affair that churches do, and church-related groups, and they do not lose their tax absolution for not filing, so why should we?”
According to the complaint, Nonbelief Abatement has donated added than $590,000 to recipients, including $4,000 adjoin the acknowledged aegis of an ex-Muslim agnostic whose ancestor “pressed artificial accuse because she larboard religion.”
Gaylor said added accepted and awaiting donation recipients accommodate bodies gluttonous to abscond South Asian countries afterwards their ancestors accept been dead or they accept been threatened for their atheism.
“Some of their belief are actual chilling,” she said. “We don’t appetite to see bodies afraid to afterlife because they’re atheists.”
With the aishment of the tax-exempt status, donors can no best accomplish tax-deductible contributions to the abatement organization.
“We accept to alpha advantageous taxes on those donations as well, so they won’t go as far,” she said.
Gaylor predicted that the charity, which currently has about $75,000 in assets, could become defunct.
Asked if FFRF and Nonbelief Abatement appetite all charities to not accept to abide 990s, Gaylor said she believes in transparency. But she thinks there is a alterity in the appropriate advertisement of how tax-exempt money is spent.
“It’s not up to us to appear up with the remedy,” she said. “It’s up to the courts.”
Faith-based organizations not carefully angry to a accurate church, such as World Relief, are appropriate to book anniversary 990s. But churches and added houses of adoration are not.
The 990 tax anatomy capacity a nonprofit’s income, costs and, in some cases, the salaries of its leaders.
Gaylor said she thinks added nonprofit groups could additionally sue over the alterity about who does and does not accept to accommodate such information.
Nonbelief Abatement seeks acknowledgment of its tax-exempt cachet and an admonition on what it considers IRS best absolution for churches from anniversary advice filings. That best analysis of religious groups is unconstitutional, the complaint claims.
The FFRF was complex in an beforehand cloister case about its own filing of 990s but it was absolved in 2014 due to abridgement of continuing to sue. The alignment feared sanctions if it did not abide to accommodate the advice the IRS required.
“We could not attempt the Freedom from Adoration Foundation’s cachet and our donors by declining to book the Anatomy 990,” Gaylor said of the beforehand case.
Nonbelief Relief’s lath consists of Gaylor, her bedmate and FFRF co-president Dan Barker and three added people, including a sister-in-law.
All lath associates serve as volunteers and do not aggregate a salary, she said.
Asked why the alms autonomous not to accommodate the advice to the IRS while the FFRF continues to do so, Gaylor said the administrative arrangement put the alignment in a bind.
“We acquainted the courts had put us in an bottomless position,” she said. “We had 23,000 members/donors at that time, assured their donations to be deductible for income-tax purposes.”
The accepted clothing additionally claims that the IRS “does not accomplish all of the tax-exempt requirements adjoin churches and affiliated religious organizations,” including accessory politicking. It cited the September actualization of evangelical pastors Paula White and Terri Copeland Pearsons at a Texas abbey area they encouraged congregants to “vote red … after any abhorrence that the IRS is activity to booty abroad your appropriate to accord to this abbey and abstract it from your taxes.”
Another claiming by the FFRF, adjoin tax-free apartment for clergy, has been appealed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Cloister of Appeals.
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