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IRS crackdown – Confusing rules

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As a tight election nears, federal officials are working to curb politicking by religious and charitable groups, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 12.

The Internal Revenue Service has been warning churches and other charities not to engage in political work – or possibly risk the loss of their tax-exempt status.

The IRS said this summer that tax law allows churches and charities to sponsor debates and forums “to educate voters,” the Journal reported, but not if they show favor or opposition to specific candidates.

But the IRS doesn’t spell out what would violate its guidelines, the Journal said.

Political endorsements by a church are barred, as are actions the help or hurt a particular candidate, the Journal said.

But the IRS’ own definition of political activity is a moving target shaped by “facts and circumstances.”

Church advocates say that standard is too broad, the Journal said.

The IRS crackdown comes in the face of growing pressure from Democrats and Republicans alike trying to drum up support from key backers, the Journal said.

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