Court Dismisses Atheist Challenge to Filing Exemptions for Churches
Judge cites federal appeals court’s rejection of housing allowance challenge.

A federal district court judge in Wisconsin ruled in December that an atheist group cannot legally challenge the Forms 1023 and 990 exemptions received by churches because the group lacks the legal standing to sue in the first place.

In its challenge to the filing exemptions, Freedom From Religion Foundation said the Internal Revenue Service showed preferential treatment to churches because churches do not have to apply for their tax-exempt status with Forms 1023, nor do they have to file lengthy and expensive annual reports with Forms 990. Other nonprofits do, including FFRF, a nonprofit atheist organization.

FFRF filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court's Western District of Wisconsin—the same venue where it achieved initial success in a separate challenge in 2013 to the clergy housing allowance. But the clergy housing allowance challenge ended in November after the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals determined FFRF didn't suffer a direct injury and lacked the standing necessary to bring that lawsuit.

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Posted: February 19, 2015
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