Since 1954, it has been illegal for churches to take part in partisan politics. Since they receive the benefits of a non-profit organization without having to fill out the paperwork or turn in any financial accounting, they should not be able to campaign for candidates because transparency is required for elections. They legally can campaign for issues (e.g. for or against a ballot initiative), but not for candidates.
For decades this law has been mostly ignored. The IRS has been stripped of personnel and financing so it has not been able to do its job. (However, a 2022 infrastructure bill added positions and funding to the IRS so they can begin to do so.)
Because of the lax attitude toward this law, many churches have been blatantly violating the rules and actively campaigning by having campaign rallies with candidates and by exhorting their parishioners in sermons to vote for or against a certain candidate. All such actions are illegal and the church should lose its non-profit status while the whistleblower could reap a percentage of any back taxes recovered.
If you believe that a church has violated the IRS rules for tax exempt organizations by engaging in partisan speech, supporting political candidates, and/or directing a substantial part of its activities to lobbying, you may report this violation to us and we will take action.
But, if you prefer to do it yourself, you can file a complaint to the IRS. You can do this in two ways.
Method 1: Send a letter to the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division.
If you choose this method your letter should include:
- Organization name and address: Provide the current name and address of the organization.
- Employer identification number: Provide the organization’s EIN number if you can.
- Nature of violation: Describe the organization’s alleged violation(s). The IRS provides a list for you to check and the most likely one is “Organization is engaged in a political campaign.” It might also be “Organization is engaged in excessive lobbying activities.” If none from the list applies, check Other and give a brief explanation.
- Details of the violation: Provide specific details of the alleged violation including names, actions, places, amounts, dates, and the nature of any evidence or documentation (who, what, where, when, how) to the best of your ability.
- Submitter information: Provide your name, address, and business or occupation. Include your daytime telephone number, in case the IRS wishes to contact you. The acknowledgement letter will be sent to the address you provide. If you are concerned that you may face retribution if your identity is disclosed, you may enter “Anonymous” for Submitter’s name and you may state this in your letter.
- Documentation: Include any supporting documentation that supports your claim (ex. pictures, documents, etc.).
You can send your letter by email, mail, or fax.
Mail: TEGE Referrals Group
1100 Commerce Street
MC 4910 DAL
Dallas, TX 75242-1198
Ogden, UT 84404
Method 2: fill out the IRS complaint form on their website.
You can find this form online using any search engine by typing in the search bar "IRS form 13909.” The form is titled “Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral).” The form asks you the same questions we have asked above. Since you cannot fit the answers into the tiny space, you can attach a printed document.
You then submit the complaint using the same mailing address, email address, and fax number as stated above.
If you wish to receive your percentage of reward from any back taxes the IRS eventually collects (it may be years), you must submit IRS form 211. You can find the form through any search engine by searching “IRS form 211.” The name of the form is “Application for Award for Original Information.” This form allows the informant (you) to receive a reward for providing the Whistleblower Office with original information regarding an organization’s noncompliance with tax law.
That form requires:
- A description of the alleged tax noncompliance, including a written narrative explaining the issue(s). (You can use the same one you wrote above.)
- Information to support the narrative, such as copies of books and records, ledger sheets, receipts, bank records, contracts, emails, and the location of assets. (You can use the same documents you used above.)
- A description of documents or supporting evidence not in the whistleblower's possession or control, and their location (if you know).
- An explanation of how and when the whistleblower became aware of the information that forms the basis of the claim. (You can use the information you wrote above.)
- A description of the whistleblower's present or former relationship (if any) to the subject of the claim (for example, family member, acquaintance, client, employee, accountant, lawyer, bookkeeper, customer).
- The whistleblower's original signature on the declaration under penalty of perjury (a representative cannot sign Form 211 for the whistleblower) and the date of signature.
This form and supporting documentation must then be sent in the mail to the address listed below.
Internal Revenue Service
Whistleblower Office – ICE
1973 N Rulon White Blvd.
Ogden, UT 84404
You may also report church:state separation violations to our friends at:
- Freedom from Religion Foundation
- Americans United for Separation of Church and State
- American Atheists
- Humanist Legal Center