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The law and financial transparency in churches: reconsidering the form 990 exemption

By John Montague

Abstract

<p class="paper-about" style="font-size: 0.9em; font-style: italic; text-align: justify; line-height: 1.2em; color: #000000; font-family: Palatino, Georgia, Arial, sans-serif; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: auto; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: #ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 9pt; line-height: 13.8000001907349px; font-family: Palatino, serif;">Il contributo - già apparso su<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span><em>Cardozo Law Review</em>, vol. 35, october 2013, n. 1, pp. 213-265 - è ora pubblicato per la cortesia dell’Editore</span></p><p class="paper-abstract" style="font-weight: bold; text-align: justify; line-height: 1.2em; color: #000000; font-family: Palatino, Georgia, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: auto; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: #ffffff;"><strong><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">TABLE OF CONTENTS:<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">Introduction -<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">I. Legislative History A.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">Early Legislative History of the Information Return Requirement -</span></em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;"><span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span>The Revenue Act of 1943 - 2. The Imposition of the Unrelated Business Income Tax in 1950 - 3. Expanding the Information Return and Unrelated Business Income Tax in 1969 - B.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">Televangelist Scandals During the 1980s -<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span></em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">C.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">Recent Legislative History of the Information Return<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span></em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">-<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">1. The William Aramony Scandal and Aftermath - 2. Recent Revisions to Form -II. Increased public access to and use of FORM 990 Information Returns - III. Churches should not be exempt from filing form - A.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">Churches Are Especially Susceptible to Financial Abuses /</span></em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">-<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">1. Many Churches Lack Basic Forms of Oversight and Accountability, Revealing Too Much Trust in the Honesty of Religious People - 2. Churches Where Power is Concentrated in the Hands of One Leader Provide the Ideal Structure for Financial Abuse - 3. Even at Churches with More Independent Boards, Leaders Still Maintain Undue Influence - 4. The Nature of Spiritual Leadership Gives Church Pastors Extraordinary Power - 5. Hierarchical Churches also Lack Proper Financial Oversight, and Lay Members Have Little Say in Accountability - B.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">Churches Themselves Would Benefit from Increased Transparency and Accountability<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span></em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">-<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">1. Greater Transparency May Increase Donations - 2. Requiring Transparency Would Mitigate the Inevitable Fall in Donations from Scandals at Similar Institutions -3. Financial and Other Scandals, Caused or Exacerbated by Lack of Transparency, Have the Potential to Damage the Spiritual Lives of Churchgoers - C.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">Many Churchgoers Would Likely Welcome More Financial Transparency -<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span></em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">D.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span><em>Financial Transparency is Consistent with the Teachings of Many Churches<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></em>-<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">E.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">Self-Regulation Is Insufficient to Prevent Financial Abuse<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span></em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">-<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">F.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">The Public Has a Right to Know What Happens to Taxpayer Money Funneled to Churches<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span></em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">-<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">IV. Constitutional Issues - A.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">Removing the Exemption Would Not Violate Free Exercise<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span></em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">-<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">B.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">The Current Exemption May Violate the Establishment Clause<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span></em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">-<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">C.<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span><em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">Requiring Churches to File the Form 990 Would Not Be Excessively Entangling –<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></span></em><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">C</span><span style="line-height: 15.3333320617676px; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Palatino, serif;">onclusion.</span></strong></p

Topics: Diritto ecclesiastico comparato e straniero, Law, K
Publisher: Università degli Studi di Milano
Year: 2014
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:e5b3f655d610417b925182d4091c8399
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