Pastor, Church & Law

Government Investigations

§ 9.06

As has been noted elsewhere,127 See § 6-03, supra.

the IRS possesses broad authority to inspect church records. This authority has been upheld on numerous occasions. Government investigations may be initiated by other federal agencies as well. To illustrate:

  • The Postal Service can investigate “any scheme or artifice to defraud, or … obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises” in connection with the use of the mail.128 18 U.S.C. § 1341.
  • The Federal Communications Commission can investigate complaints regarding a broadcast licensee’s performance.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can investigate the compliance of religious organizations with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission can investigate instances of fraudulent activities in the offer and sale of securities.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration can investigate alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
  • The United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services Department can investigate the immigration status of persons who perform services for compensation, including those employed by religious organizations.
  • The Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, can investigate compliance with the federal minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.
  • The Department of Justice can investigate alleged violations of federal law.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency can investigate alleged violations of federal environmental laws.
  • The Federal Department of Transportation can investigate violations of bus regulations.
  • State and municipal agencies are authorized to investigate a range of activities that may violate applicable law.

    It is common for the investigatory authority of federal, state, and local agencies to extend to religious organizations. In some cases, this authority may be limited.

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