The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) has filed a lawsuit with the Internal Revenue Service, alleging that churches and religious non-profits receive unconstitutional preferential treatment unavailable to secular groups.
Tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations must file a detailed application form, fee and annual information to obtain and maintain their tax-exempt status. However, churches and other religious organizations are exempted from the requirement to file the reports and fees, which the lawsuit describes as “detailed, intrusive, and expensive.”
The FFRF alleges it is unconstitutional for the IRS to provide benefits to churches and religious organizations “while discriminating against” secular non-profit groups “solely on the basis of religious criteria.”
“The preferential treatment provided to churches and other affiliated religious organizations constitutes an exclusive and discriminatory benefit to religion in violation of the Establishment Clause, as well as the equal protection rights required by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” states the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Madison.
The lawsuit seeks a court order to stop the IRS “from continuing to exempt churches and other affiliated religious organizations from the application and annual information filings required of all other non-profit organizations under §501(c)(3).”
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