Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent broke the story of Pastor Brad Brandon’s announcement of several political candidate endorsements from the pulpit of the Berean Baptist Church in Hastings, Minnesota. In his announcement, he challenged the IRS to take away the church’s tax exemption. [correction] Pastor Brad may get his wish; the group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State filed
suit complaint with the IRS Monday to accomplish just that.
Pastor Brad was undoubtedly thinking, “What does it matter, anyway; the church is hardly a money-making enterprise.” But the big sting for the church is probably not the income tax, but rather the property taxes it will have to pay on its church building.
Here’s the relevant provision of the Minnesota Statutes:
Institutions of public charity. Institutions of purely public charity that are exempt from federal income taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are exempt if they meet the requirements of this subdivision. [the statute goes on to list the requirements]
Sadly for Pastor Brad and his flock, the IRS exemption is a sine qua non to preserving a property tax exemption for the church building. If it loses the 501(c)(3), status, it also loses its tax exempt status for property taxes.