News

IRS coming for Black megachurch preachers?

Sun., Feb. 16, 2014 9:05 AM EDT
by Mo Barnes

Preachers of L.A.

The vast majority of religious institutions receive non-profit status and pay no taxes. That goes for many preachers’ personal income as well, but the preachers of LA may soon have issues. Because of the extravagant lifestyle portrayed by pastors on the Real Preachers of LA,  the IRS is examining the nature and income of  churches across the country. A lawsuit was filed in November 2013 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation versus the IRS, claiming that clergy receive preferential and unfair treatment in using untaxed income to pay for homes, cars and other personal items that the average citizen must pay. United States District Court Judge Barbara Crabb agreed and issued two rulings in the FFRF vs. Werfel (IRS). The first ruling agreed that pastors’ untaxed income does give an unfair privilege and the second allowed another lawsuit to proceed that would make preachers report all income received or be charged with tax evasion. The purpose of these lawsuits is to redefine and test the limits of how separation of church and state is viewed as well as religious freedoms.

The very nature of the Real Preachers of LA shows the often extreme and lavish life styles of these pastors. A giant walk-in closet of custom made suits, mansions, Bentleys and private jets automatically put the pastor under scrutiny. The days of Eddie Long standing at the altar as congregants bring up stacks of cash may soon face greater scrutiny. For many black parishioners of various churches, it is a welcome examination of the black megachurch.The lawsuits are not solely directed at black preachers but all clergy. It just so happens that the Real Preachers of LA present a season of evidence against the continued privileges of black megachurch pastors.

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  • Luke Luther

    I am not a supporter of the mega-life style, but there are many churches who get an unfair benefit. If we can look at one group, it may be time to look at all of them. Christian and not. It is not right to single out 1 of the extravagant groups in light of what is happening. Their arrogance alone is not criminal however repulsive and ungodly we may find it.

    • Maxwell

      I agree. You have to include all houses of faith and all religions including Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, Mormon, Amish and non-denominational. To ensure equality you have to make sure you cover every location, from the small store front to the massive cathedral structures. If this passes, needless to say there will be a lot of unhappy campers.

  • montgomeryjhm

    God warned us of false prophets. How many give their last dime for these so called ministers. Just for them be able to live in multi-million dollars houses. they should get the white ones too. figure out what the average salary for certain church size. Anything over that, you tax.

  • ladycat713

    Any religious leader , no matter what religion or race , who can consider themselves a 1 percenter is in it for the money not for faith. Otherwise that money used to buy the jet plane or any other ridiculous extravagance would go to help those in need .

  • Gary

    As a former employee of a large non -profit and current tax accountant, many of the large earners had to disclose their income, except church’s. This lack Of transparency with mega chuch’s has got to end.

    The pastors are using congregants tithes and offerings to meet their contracts Of getting paid. After, filing a tax return of a pastor and questionable church loans, non-insurance for other paid members, negative balances in most accounts, I questioned it. My answer, “I earned every dime in the spirit realm.”

    Now, I have an MBA Finance, Masters Drgree in Accounting, a consulting firm, and years of experience. I went toThe Wharton School Of Business and CMU Tepper School Of Business. Yet, this Person has an on line degree anf is pushing close to $500k tax Free? When does it end?