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• Two religious organizations recently lost their tax-exempt status. First, the Tax Court revoked the exempt status of the "Ecclesiastical Order of the Ism of Am" since the organization was not operated exclusively for exempt purposes. In particular, the organization counseled individuals on the purported tax benefits available to ministers of the Ism of Am under federal tax law. The court concluded that the organization was "nothing more than a commercial tax service, albeit in a narrow range of matters of interest to its members, operating under the cover of a professed religious purpose. That religious belief may be the body of the automobile but its engine and the gasoline on which it runs consist of tax information and advice as to methods of tax avoidance, if not downright tax evasion." Similarly, the Court of Claims revoked the tax-emempt status of the Universal Life Church on ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • January 1, 1988

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