Atheists incensed after IRS grants them tax exemption as religious group


Washington Times:

Atheists incensed after IRS grants them tax exemption as religious group

The leader of an atheist group reportedly is incensed that the U.S. government has granted it a tax exemption, citing allowances for religious organizations — and she’s even angrier at learning that she’s considered a minister under the Internal Revenue Service code.“We are not ministers,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, who heads the Freedom from Religion Foundation in The Blaze. She added: The organization doesn’t want the tax exemption if it’s based on codes granting allowances to religious groups.

“We are having to tell the government the obvious – we are not a church,” she said.
Most people might welcome the chance to bypass paying taxes to the IRS. The Justice Department even filed a brief in court arguing that Ms. Gaylor is eligible for the exemption, which gives her tax-free housing, because she heads the group and atheist organizations are eligible for some of the same benefits granted churches.

But Ms. Gaylor’s group is suing, saying the federal government’s tax exemptions for religious groups does not apply to the atheists — and that the federal government’s insistence on giving the benefit is actually tantamount to a tax-free housing award, The Tennessean reported. Ms. Gaylor and her husband, Dan Barker, initially were awarded a government housing allowance of $15,000 per year in 2009. They’ve been arguing they don’t deserve the benefit — because they’re atheists and proud to claim no religious affiliation — ever since.

:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

There’s just no pleasing some people.


This is hilarious. It seems like satire.


Indeed, this could be a headline from TheOnion.


This sounds to me like the atheists in question are being honest, and trying to apply consistent standards to themselves.

Not that the situation isn’t funny but I don’t think Mrs. Gaylor should be mocked for it.


Strange that anyone would refuse a tax deduction for any reason.


Not at all strange. Mrs. Gaylor is being honest.


I agree, not strange in the least.

To this group, it would be an insult to be categorized as a religious institution when their whole work is about freedom from religion!
Very ironic.



What do you mean?
It doesn’t seem as though they *asked *for this exemption–not in that category, anyway.

FYI her husband, Dan Barker, is a well known speaker on the circuit in the secular humanism/atheist world.



The world’s best legal advice radio program is “Handel On The Law” … Bill Handel should be contacted for his advice.

Seems like “they” need some appropriate wording.

In My Humble Opinion.

The radio program airs early … very early … on Sunday morning.

Mr. Handel would probably “take the case”.


The government isn’t in the habit of doing all the work to give out tax exemptions. The atheist group had to have applied for the exemption. Now, they are fussing about it to make a point. There is no mystery here. They are trying to rid the government of anything that has to do with religion, including tax exemptions for any religious organization. This is a first probe into the legalities.

The goal of many groups in the US is to stop tax exemptions. The atheist groups want it eliminated. The gay rights groups state it clearly that they want to pull tax exemption status from any church that doesn’t recognize gay marriage.

What would happen if tax exemptions were eliminated? Well, we Catholics would be okay. Every diocese would need to close a few churches to support the others, but we would be okay overall. But those we serve would not be okay. Charity, housing, food, support for the homeless, shelters, missions, Catholic hospitals and schools would not be able to do as much. However, the biggest loser would be the little churches. The independent churches in poor neighborhoods. They are sometimes the only glue holding communities together. They would be shut down. As far as charity and socially, it would be a disaster. The amount of money the government would need to spend to make up for all the services provided by churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques would far exceed the tax exemptions. The government is very much aware of this. But this little fact is ignored by those with political agendas who are showing very little regard for the needy in this country.


There is nothing to stop them from giving the money back to the government


Thanks for this reasoned post. And yes you are right and yes the header was very funny. Zealots have no thought for others.


Pursuant to USA Tax code What is a religion?


Good point.


Atheism sure isn’t a religion, by any stretch of the imagination. How could the IRS categorize it as such? I’m gonna do some digging…



See if If you can find someplace in the IRS code forbidding a nonprofit from giving what they consider the amount they should be taxed to the government


They are challenging the system, not their own tax rate. Their ability to giving to the government doesn’t seem to be their main concern. Rather they seem to be attempting to make a precedent.


Did you ever see (on HBO) or read the book “Going Clear”? There’s a section in which the Church of Scientology and the IRS have a struggle against each other. I wonder if some of the things that happened then in any way shaped what the IRS considers a religious group.

I did find the information on what is considered a church.

[quote=IRS]“Churches” Defined
The term church is found, but not specifically defined, in the Internal Revenue Code. With the exception of the special rules for church audits, the use of the term church also includes conventions and associations of churches as well as integrated auxiliaries of a church.
Certain characteristics are generally attributed to churches. These attributes of a church have been developed by the IRS and by court decisions. They include:
*]Distinct legal existence
*]Recognized creed and form of worship
*]Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
*]Formal code of doctrine and discipline
*]Distinct religious history
*]Membership not associated with any other church or denomination
*]Organization of ordained ministers
*]Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study
*]Literature of its own
*]Established places of worship
*]Regular congregations
*]Regular religious services
*]Sunday schools for the religious instruction of the young
*]Schools for the preparation of its members
The IRS generally uses a combination of these characteristics, together with other facts and circumstances, to determine whether an organization is considered a church for federal tax purposes.
Source: Publication 1828, Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations.


Who says they ultimately are not? Besides, in the USA anyone can overpay on their taxes. Really, the almost $20 trillion-in-debt federal government won’t mind. :o


Well, are they going to pay the taxes anyways then?

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