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What the IRS says is and isn't a church

May 17, 2019 - 4:00 am
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By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Court upheld the IRS' decision on what isn't a church.   

Like the IRS, you might wonder why there's an ATM at the entrance of the Panama City Florida Tabernacle, which had a website advertising a seven-night-a-week party and sold sexually explicit shirts. 

Which raises the question: why do they get a tax exemption? 

Churches and religious organizations qualify for exemption from federal income tax and are eligible to receive tax deductible contributions. But to qualify, its earnings can't be for the benefit of any private individual, it can't use a substantial part of its income to influence legislation or win political campaigns, its activities can't be illegal and it has to be organized exclusively for religious, educational, scientific or other charitable purposes. 

And sex education with a loser doesn't count either as educational or charitable, at least not for federal tax purposes. Which is why the court upheld the IRS' decision to revoke the tax exempt status from what was basically a religious-themed nightclub.