On 10/16/2012, The Des Moines Register advocated for allowing churches to speak politically without jeopardizing their charitable tax status. (“Free speech should apply to churches”) People who contribute to not-for-profit charitable organizations that qualify under tax code section 501c3, including churches, get to take a charitable deduction when calculating their income taxes. This means that taxpayers are subsidizing these charitable contributions.
Political parties, campaign organizations, lobbying groups, and other not-for-profit organizations are tax exempt, but under different tax code provisions. Supporters of those organizations do not get a tax deduction for contributions. That is as it should be. Taxpayers should not subsidize political speech.
If we simply allow all churches to advocate politically without limit, and supporters are allowed to take a charitable deduction for contributions made to those churches, then expect new “churches” to be established for the primary purpose of advocating politically.
The solution to this problem is already available. If churches want to advocate politically, all they have to do is elect a different not-for-profit tax status. They would still be tax exempt, but supporters would not get a tax deduction for contributions.