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Political Activities

Impact on Tax-exempt Status

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Can churches engage in political activities without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status? That is the issue in a lawsuit brought by several abortion rights groups challenging the tax-exempt status of the Roman Catholic Church on the basis of its alleged anti-abortion legislative and political activities. The lawsuit is based on the language of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which defines a tax-exempt organization as one "which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office."

The lawsuit alleges various activities undertaken by the Roman Catholic Church that constitute "intervention in political campaigns to further the Church's religious belief that no one should be able to obtain an abortion in the United States." These activities, ...

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Posted:
  • March 1, 1988

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