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Thu Apr 24, 2014, 12:38 AM

Why are these wealthy, politically involved businesses exempt from paying taxes?

Flip on Daystar television at any hour of the day and you'll likely see the elements of modern televangelism: a stylish set, an emotional spiritual message and a phone number on the screen soliciting donations.

Based in a studio complex between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, and broadcasting to a potential audience of 2 billion people around the globe, Daystar calls itself the fastest growing Christian television network in the world.

The Internal Revenue Service considers Daystar something else: a church.

Televangelists have a choice when they deal with the IRS. Some, like Pat Robertson and Billy Graham, register as religious organizations. They're exempt from most taxes but still must file disclosure reports showing how they make and spend their money.

Daystar and dozens of others call themselves churches, which enjoy the greatest protection and privacy of all nonprofit organizations in America.

Churches avoid not only taxes, but any requirement to disclose their finances. And, as NPR has learned, for the last five years churches have avoided virtually any scrutiny whatsoever from the federal government's tax authority.

Today, television evangelists are larger, more numerous, more complex, richer, with bigger audiences than ever before and yet they are the least transparent of all nonprofits.

The top three religious broadcasters Christian Broadcast Network, Trinity Broadcasting Network and Daystar Television are worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars combined, according to available records.

With $233 million in assets, Daystar is the largest religious TV network in America that calls itself a church. As such, there's no objective way for viewers who annually give an average of $35 million to Daystar to be certain how their money is spent.

But NPR found hundreds of pages of court records filed as part of a 2011 employee lawsuit in Texas that has since been dismissed. In them were six years of audited financial statements from Daystar, including balance sheets, income and expense records and detailed accounting of donations.

Those records offer a deep and unprecedented look at the inner workings of a modern religious empire, and they raise issues as basic as the definition of "church" and as a grand as the role of government in religion.

http://www.scpr.org/news/2014/04/01/43211/can-a-television-network-be-a-church-the-irs-says/

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Reply Why are these wealthy, politically involved businesses exempt from paying taxes? (Original post)
Sarah Ibarruri Apr 2014 OP
Prophet 451 Apr 2014 #1
Sarah Ibarruri Apr 2014 #3
Rex Apr 2014 #5
TexasTowelie Apr 2014 #2
Sarah Ibarruri Apr 2014 #4

Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 02:43 AM

1. Because they're right-wing.

One thing I've learned in the last week is that right-wingers are completely free to brazenly break the law as much as they like.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 04:34 PM

3. Great post! It certainly appears that way!! nt

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 04:37 PM

5. Been that way since Nixon. Seems just more so today.

 

Why it is that way, I have no idea.

Until just a few weeks ago, I've never seen law enforcement cave to a mob of RWing armed loonies...but it did happen. Maybe the first time in modern history!

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Response to Sarah Ibarruri (Original post)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 02:49 AM

2. I knew an employee of Daystar.

He was a permissive parent and his son was in seven drug rehabs by the time he was 18. It's was 10 years ago and I wonder if the kid is either alive or in prison now.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #2)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 04:34 PM

4. They sound like the cream of the crop. nt

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