“Pulpit Freedom Sunday”

At Prawfsblawg, Paul Horwitz, Rick Garnett and others have a discussion of claims (typified here and here) that it’s oppressive not to let churches electioneer with tax-deductible funds. Other views: Religion News Service/HuffPo, Bloomberg editorial, Stephen Colbert via TaxProf (to an IRS-defying pastor: “Other people have to use after-tax money for their political speech, but you guys get to use pre-tax money for political speech.”) Or is the better answer to liberate both secular and religious 501(c)(3)s to express election views, with the possible result of enabling political donors generally to take a tax deduction on money spent to promote their preferred candidates and causes?


  • So many 501(c)(3) orgs already exist for purely political purposes, from NORML to MADD to the ACLU, that we might as well legalize the practice, because if the IRS were to take all their exemptions away they’d make the entire country mad enough to abolish the agency. (And the only third alternative is letting the agency pick and choose, which breaks the rule of law.)

  • The best solution: do away with tax-exempt status completely at the federal, state and local level. Allow those entities to do as they wish and spend their money in the same way as any other taxpayer.

  • They need to pay taxes if they electioneer. Otherwise the organizations lobbying on the “other side” of these issues have an unfair disadvantage.

  • […] “As churches get political, IRS stays quiet” [Reuters, earlier] […]