Monday, October 7, 2019

Hate group up to mischief

Mat Staver
Hate group leader Mad Mat Staver is certainly enriching himself and his wife with taxpayer subsidies.
via CBN News
An observant reader alerted me to the fact that Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBT hate group, has incorporated two churches at their headquarters in Maitland, Florida. Moreover, Liberty Counsel filed an assumed name certificate in Florida. Liberty Counsel will be doing business as one of those churches; Liberty Counsel Fellowship.

The other church is called Covenant Journey Fellowship. LC has an existing 501(c)3 affiliate, Covenant Journey. There might be another assumed name filing for Covenant Journey DBA Covenant Journey Fellowship. According to the website:
Covenant Journey is a corporate expression of Christian believers who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and join together in prayer, Bible study, and worship. We call this community of believers Covenant Journey Fellowship.
Why? This mightmight — be related to some activism on my part (or that of other people). For those who are unaware, Liberty Counsel is considered a church auxiliary by the Internal Revenue Service. As such they are not required to submit an annual report to the IRS. The last form 990 that Liberty Counsel voluntarily filed was for calendar year 2015.

It is also possible that they are trying to posture Covenant Journey as a church in order to have the IRS reclassify the entity.

Some of the affiliates of Liberty Counsel are required to file a tax return. In doing so they must report the compensation of executives of related entities. Therefor, in spite of not filing a return for Liberty Counsel we know that, in 2017, Mad Mat Staver was paid over $300 thousand. His wife, Anita Staver, took home another $150 thousand for seemingly doing nothing.

As for Liberty Counsel's status as a church auxiliary, I requested FOIA documents. When Liberty Counsel's CPA filed the paperwork with the service, he admitted that LC did not fully qualify. To qualify it would have to be dependent on the church — Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church — for a majority of its support. It never was and never will be. In late 2007, the IRS approved this in error or did it with a wink and a nod.

Okay, the Service screwed up and they should reverse their error. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Congress has limited the ability of the IRS to audit churches (26 U.S. Code § 7611). Just to open an investigation requires the approval of a senior level treasury official.

Getting the Service to correct its obvious error has been a frustrating exercise. However, I continue to seek ways to do so. The issue is not political. The term “appropriate high-level Treasury official” means the Secretary of the Treasury or any delegate of the Secretary whose rank is no lower than that of a principal Internal Revenue officer for an internal revenue region. That seems to define a career manager in contrast to a political appointee.

In any event I have come up with a new way to approach this. Letters will go out this week. Readers are free to file a complaint by email.

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