Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The [tax] sheltering arms of God

Other than touting his Christmas album, there hasn’t been much written here lately about Bradley Dean Smith, or Bradlee Dean (if he intended that as an alias, it wasn’t a very good choice, was it, boys and girls?). But Karl Bremer has done a couple of posts recently about Pastor Bradlee and how he revved up his pastoring business in 2005 by putting his trust (so to speak) not so much in God as in the tax cheat and charlatan Glen Stoll. Here’s a little from Karl’s post about Stoll and a federal court injunction against him shortly after Pastor Bradlee signed up:

According to the permanent federal injunction ordered against Stoll in 2005, Stoll falsely told his customers that “church ministries are not required to notify the IRS of even their existence, much less their exemption from taxation and return filing requirements.”

The federal injunction states that Stoll also falsely advised his customers to take such illegal tax-avoidance steps as classifying employees as independent contractors, not report compensation to the IRS and to make payments to their ministerial trusts rather than individuals so income can be more easily hidden from the IRS.

And, court documents state, Stoll advised and assisted his customers in transferring their pre-tax income to offshore bank accounts in the Caribbean and advised customers on how to circumvent U.S. banking laws.

Karl reports that in 2008 Pastor Bradlee and the You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International “ministry” began legal action to sever their relationship with Stoll, perhaps understandable, since another customer of Stoll’s who ran a theme park where the dinosaurs romped with humans is spending some time at a Club Fed.

Working the religious angle has some great tax benefits. No income tax for the “church,” of course, but also exemption from property taxes for the “church” property, and nontaxable housing allowances for the “ministers.”

If you are a tax exempt religious organization under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, however, one of the big no-nos is partisan political activity and the advocacy of candidates. And yet, you’ve all seen this photo, either here or elsewhere on the ‘net:



The same combination of political advocacy and juvenile evangelism can be found – or apparently could until recently – on the Sons of Liberty radio show on the Salem Communication radio station, AM 1280, the Patriot. I have heard that the Sons have recently gone full time to the paleo-Christian stuff.

Please read both of Karl’s posts; I think this is one you’ll want to be up to speed on in coming months.

Update: Here’s a Minnesota Independent article by Andy Birkey on this same subject; it’s from a couple of days ago; I just saw it. A couple of grafs from the article:

The Minnesota Independent examined some of Smith’s financial dealings in 2009 when new IRS 990 forms showed that he and his band mates were taking a ministerial housing allowance despite his organization being a religious non-profit as opposed to a church. Those housing allowances are meant only for “duly ordained” members of the clergy. Smith has refused to answer questions related to his ordination or which church his organization belongs to.

In 2008, Smith and his sidekick MacAuley, greatly increased their compensation and housing allowance. According to the group’s most recent 990 filing, Smith was paid $51,303 salary and $45,887 for the housing allowance, raking in $97,190. MacAuley’s compensation was a bit less coming in at $66,897 in 2008.

Andy goes on to write:

Dean and his ministry have close ties to the Republican Party and GOP officials and candidates including gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Secretary of State and current state Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, and state Rep. Dan Severson. Rep. Michele Bachmann has fundraised for the group extensively in recent years as well.


DiscordianStooge said...

Taking a picture with a guy isn't really up to the tax-status removal. I don't know if they supported actual candidates on their radio show, because I can rarely listen more than 5 minutes. Especially now that they are, indeed, full time into the old-time religion.

PZ Myers had a good story on a pastor making $120K a year and only paying taxes on something like $15K due to religious exemptions. He also asked for a discount on his tax preperation due to being of meager means. :) I'm guessing that's not typical, though.

blogspotdog said...

But YCRBYCH set up a booth at the Republican convention; I don't think it was selling doughnuts. See also the update to the post.

It isn't just candidate advocacy that is proscribed by the IRS, but standing with the Republican candidate in front of the YCRBYCH booth at the convention comes pretty close, anyway.