Electioneering Ban Protects Church Integrity, Says Irs Chief

At a March 14 National Press Club luncheon in Washington, D.C., Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark Everson said the federal tax law ban on electioneering by churches is essential to “protect their integrity.”

Less than a month after the IRS announced an escalated drive to enforce the ban on politicking by churches and other tax-exempt charities, the head of the federal tax agency reaffirmed his commitment to the project.

“I am particularly concerned about prohibited political intervention by charities and churches as we head into the 2006 electoral season,” said Everson. “Clearly, political intervention by charities and churches is an area where the IRS must tread carefully. There are few bright lines for evaluating political intervention. But I am convinced that we must act. We can’t afford to have our charitable and religious institutions undermined by politics.”

During a question-and-answer period, Everson was asked why the IRS is devoting time to church-based politicking instead of chasing down “tax cheats.”

\xadEverson responded that the agency is “sensitive to the absolute fact that free speech and religious liberty are terribly important.”

“But at the same time,” he continued, “the Congress has set in law and the Supreme Court has upheld that while those rights are enshrined in our Constitution, you don’t have a right to be subsidized by the American taxpayer through a tax exemption.”