IRS won’t revoke tax-exempt status over gay marriage

IRS won’t revoke tax-exempt status over gay marriage August 5, 2015

When the Supreme Court was hearing arguments about gay marriage, the solicitor general made some ominous comments about religious schools that don’t believe in gay marriage possibly losing their tax exemption, just as Bob Jones University did for not accepting inter-racial marriage.  (That policy has since changed.)

But the IRS commissioner told a Senate committee that  schools and other non-profits would not lose their tax exemption for opposing gay marriage.  At least for now, unless Congress or the courts rule otherwise.

From Sarah Pullliam Bailey, IRS commissioner promises not to revoke tax-exempt status of colleges that oppose gay marriage – The Washington Post:

After the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage, religious leaders feared that religious universities, nonprofits and other institutions could lose their tax-exempt status. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has promised the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee that his agency would not go after the tax-exempt status of religious colleges and universities that oppose gay marriage.

During a hearing Wednesday conducted by the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) asked Koskinen whether the IRS would “not, in the absence of a directive by Congress or by the courts,” take action to remove religious schools’ tax exemption.

“I can make that commitment,” Koskinen said, explaining that “we see no basis for changing our examination criteria as a result of this Supreme Court case.”

Koskinen discussed the potential for such schools’ tax exemption to go under scrutiny down the road. “If we ever did that, we would issue it for public comment. There would be no surprises,” Koskinen said. “The public would have plenty of notice and plenty of opportunity to comment, and that’s not going to happen in the next two and a half years.”

Lee pointed to the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in March, when Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. compared the case to one involving Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian college in South Carolina. The Supreme Court ruled in 1983 that the school was not entitled to a tax-exempt status if it banned interracial marriage.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., arguing for same-sex couples, agreed that tax-exempt status is “certainly going to be an issue.” That set off fears among religious leaders that their tax-exempt status could be questioned. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the minority that the issue will eventually come before the court.

HT:  Rodney Showalter

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