The IRS Is Investigating Televangelist Benny Hinn for “Tax Evasion and General Fraud”

Benny Hinn, the televangelist known to many as the white-haired guy who touched people on the forehead, knocks them backwards, and claims to cure whatever ails them, is being investigated for tax fraud.

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The man himself is currently in France (according to his schedule), but back home in Texas, where his ministries are headquartered, IRS agents were seen entering and exiting the building yesterday morning.

Though NBC 5 crews saw a large number of federal agents walking in and out of the offices with boxes, investigators would not say what they are looking for or even confirm they are investigating Hinn.

Neighbors saw the agents swarm into the building about 9 a.m. Wednesday.

It looked like a big raid — people everywhere, police people everywhere out there, and just rushing in,” said John Ebert, who works next door.

The IRS criminal investigators on scene primarily investigate tax evasion and general fraud against the government.

Another report offered a few more details:

“Today, we are here on official business, we are conducting a search warrant on the premises, basically that’s all I can tell you today,” said Special Agent Michael Moseley with IRS Criminal Investigations.

“We are primarily investigating Title 26, which is tax evasion and general fraud against the government,” said Mosely.

Interesting… but beyond that, it’s all very hush-hush. The IRS (obviously) isn’t saying more. And Hinn’s ministry declined to comment. They didn’t even make the usual conservative Christian claim that they were being persecuted, so you know this is serious.

Hinn has long had a reputation for being a scam artist. He promises miracle cures if you just “plant a seed” and give money to his ministry… which is just Christianese for I want more cash. And he’ll stoop low to get it:

In 1999, Hinn announced he was building a $30 million healing center in Irving and raised millions of dollars. The center was never built.

Hinn claimed to refund any donated money.

The IRS investigated Hinn once before, in 2005, though nothing ever materialized.

Hinn was also one of several televangelists probed in 2007 by the Senate Finance Committee… but he was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t doing anything wrong, only that Sen. Chuck Grassley couldn’t even get cooperation from several ministries, witnesses didn’t want to testify, and he didn’t have the money or resources to examine the ministries thoroughly.

So smile at the fact that the IRS was at his offices… but until we hear more details, it’d be foolish to assume you know how this will turn out.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.