Update on Grassley and Copeland

I would be remiss, given my previous posts, to not offer this update to the saga.

Copeland ministry says it will cooperate with IRS

Attorneys for Kenneth Copeland Ministries sent a letter to the IRS’ Office of Examinations on Monday saying the church was willing to cooperate with a tax inquiry by the agency. KTVT/Channel 11 first reported the church’s request. The church is based in Newark in Wise County.

Discuss.

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~ by bchatcher on April 10, 2008.

13 Responses to “Update on Grassley and Copeland”

  1. Churches should lead the way in being of the utmost ethical in their finances. I can say for the 1st time in my church career I feel more satisfied about how our finances are ran than ever. After checking out the story on the Dallas Morning New web page I have an issue about why Copeland is having to do an IRS audit. The idea that a senator is calling for 6 large ministries to be audited because he is worried about pastors bankrolling in lavish digs. That is the pot calling the kettle black. The idea that a church man has to have a board to approve raises or funds to be spent to keep tax exemption. Unlike our senators who can give on another a raise without a vote and hey what about the extra funds they get from special interest.

    I am not a fan of copeland but as a fellow church person I have to be careful from judging his actions on finances. I will be interested in seeing how the story ends.

  2. Notice the news item does not say “will cooperate with Grassley,” the IRS audit is Copeland’s idea, not the IRS’s or Grassely’s. I see this as Copeland looking for a way around Grassley’s request.

    Also realize that all those Congressmen still pay taxes. Ministers do also pay taxes, but there are several loopholes, cars and houses being a huge one. I wasn’t able to use them because as a YM, I wasn’t taking a “visible, sacerdotal role in leading worship,” but I was aware of them. Since a Church (a federal-tax-free entity) can pay umpteen thousand dollars a year to a minister and the minister does not have to pay taxes on it if it’s a “housing allowance,” the IRS does have an interest in the finances of that minister. By the way, if I recall correctly, the “housing allowance” can be used for rent, mortgage payments, utilities, property taxes, and insurance on a residence. It can also include home repair, home improvement, and even furnishings if the church owns the property. There’s no cap for this provision, although from what I’ve read online, the IRS will look into instances where it exceeds 60% of the gross salary. For many folks working for churches, this is a needed provision, allowing them to maintain aging parsonages that would be out of line with what a congregation can afford as a salary for instance. I’m not against the provision, just wary of the potential abuse, and mindful that there are more cheats* wearing clerical garb than there are ones addressed as “Senator” or “Congressman.”

    * I was going to use stronger language, it’s appropriate, but I offended myself. I hereby adopt the title “Wuss of Prof. X’s Blog.”

  3. The “loop whole” is called the Dempsy Allocation Rule. Housing is anything one can prove to provide for the house. The only people who can legally take advantage in this would be licensed ministers and again that has to be approved by a board or committee. So for any of those being audited needs to be worried about if paper work is in order. Again yes Copeland did volunteer the IRS audit so his record is kept private. So again I am not a fan of Copeland, or his peers but as a minister I think one needs to be careful on how the government starts attacking non-profits or churches.

    As well there is NO limit on how much one can spend on housing, as long as one can prove it a pastor can have 100% of his salary be housing. Now to act like one is better because they do not take advantage of the Dempsy rule could be argued they are not being Biblical, since Jesus did say give to ceaser to ceaser give to God what is God’s. Hopefully as a YM you will get licensed to be able to take advantaged of the rules of Ceaser has laid out for you. If you need help with this please email me because I there is added benefit to help your family out.

    Bottom line as a pastor one must be careful how they cheer the gov. on.

  4. Here is another perspective you may want to consider. It is a blog entitled “Kenneth Copeland’s Jet” http://dougwead.wordpress.com/2008/04/12/kenneth-copelands-jet/

  5. As for me being able to take advantage of that, nope, probably not gonna happen. I’m not a YM any more, but even though I’m still licensed I’m not getting ordained any time soon. I’m Catholic and technically I’m eligible to be ordained a Deacon, but the chance of that happening is remote as I have school-age children and, never mind, I’m just not going to be worried about the clergy housing exemption any time soon.

  6. I believe that the issue here is more about the Constitutionality of Senator Grassley’s actions. The US has always made the separation of church & state one of its top priorities. I think that Copeland is trying to make sure that this whim of Grassley’s targeted at these 6 ministries isn’t a spring board for future investigations into other groups. I think there is no telling what this could lead to. Here is a link to a good article to make you think…
    http://dougwead.wordpress.com/2008/04/12/kenneth-copelands-jet/

  7. I can’t say that I know Sen. Grassley from a hole in the ground, but I think there is precedent here. If the IRS offers a tax break to charities, including churches (or “ecclesial communities”) then the IRS has the right to say “Why are you using that money to buy a jet?” There may be a legitimate need for the jet, or maybe they are scamming the Gov’t out of money. OK, so even Rev. Copeland agrees the IRS can ask for and look at his books. What the Sen. is trying to do (and perhaps ostensibly) is to see if the current IRS regulations work. That’s a different matter, and since Congress oversees the tax code, they do have a point. In at least one instance, he’s gone after a tax-protected corp in his own state that oversees elder care, and in (to my eyes) a very similar way. Agreed, some folks are just excited about this in the same way folks like to see someone they don’t like get beat up. It’s what drives countless movies and TV shows.

  8. Didn’t mean for that to be a smiley face. Must have mis-typed.

  9. Bull – you bring up some good points, but it is still NOT the Senator’s responsbility to pick and choose who he decides he needs to investigate. The details requested were also pretty off the wall. Read this recently…
    http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/60222

  10. alison76, I don’t understand your point. Probably because the link didn’t work for me. I clicked on it and it took me to the American Chronicle home page. I did a search for him on the site and didn’t come across much that illuminated your comment.

  11. Why not check out the documents – the letter trail, what questions were asked, what answers were given, the disclosures from one of the investigated parties. There’s a lot of speculation going around about how things transpired, what all is involved, who said and did what. I saw more into it when I went directly to one of the sides about whom I have heard the largest variety of things. http://www.kcm.org/news/index.php?p=news_article&cid=10&eid=23912855

  12. The investigation still is dragging on. Grassley’s camp has resorted to smear tactics on Copeland – throwing out a nepotism based attack 2 weeks ago. It’s time for Grassley to either move on with the subpeona action he has threatened, or drop it. Copeland is going to fight to the end and his support continues to grow.

  13. Months later and still no conclusion. Grassley needs to admit that he has lost any footing he thought he had to stand on. Copeland has yet to back down and his support continues to grow. I am glad that he’s seen the big picture for ALL of us from day one. I hope there is an end in sight.

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