Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association reclassified by the IRS

Franklin Graham
The Internal Revenue Service has reclassified the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to a collection of churches. It is not. The reason that BGEA requested the change is to be relieved of the expense and ardor of submitting an annual 990 to the Service. That is too damned bad and this is outrageous!

We all subsidize 501(c)3 organizations. We expect some transparency in return. Nowhere in the tax code can I find a provision for making life easier for a charity by reducing reporting requirements.

In round numbers BGEA has an operating budget in excess of $100 million. In 2014 it paid salaries of $42 million. It employs over 1,000 people plus others who were paid as independent contractors. Just like every other association of churches it paid its media relations firm $627,000 in 2014. 17 people are paid in excess of $100,000; six people over $200,000. One person, a corporate VP was paid $337,000. The organization provides first class travel, companion travel, parsonages and personal services like chefs, maids and chauffeurs. Some of those benefits are taxable. However, the organization pays the gross-up value and indemnifies the employees. In other words, BGEA pays at least some of the taxes on benefits for employees. There are 12 related organizations that file separate tax returns. That does not include Samaritan's Purse which is Franklin Graham's primary employer. Samaritan's Purse has also requested IRS reclassification. It is even less eligible. No decision has been made.

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