The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the IRS for failing to audit thousand of churches that allegedly violated federal tax law by engaging in partisan advocacy.
“[T]he Internal Revenue Service, under the direction of the Defendant Shulman, has followed and continues to follow a policy of non-enforcement of the electioneering restrictions of §501©(3) against churches and other religious organizations,” the lawsuit states. “As a result, in recent years, churches and religious organizations have been blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions of §501©(3), including during the presidential election year of 2012.”
The Internal Revenue Code prohibits 501©(3) organizations, including churches and charities, from intervening or participating in political campaigns. However, an IRS official recently said the agency had halted audits of churches engaging in political activity in the last three years. A federal court ordered the IRS to clarify who could authorize the audit of churches in 2009, but the agency has not yet adopted new regulations.