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Republicans ask Treasury watchdog to see if IRS improperly denied tax-exemption to religious group

The IRS in May denied tax exemption to a Texas prayer group saying Bible study is affiliated with Republicans.

Updated: June 30, 2021 - 3:52pm

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Republican Reps. Jim Jordan, James Comer, and Mike Johnson have sent a letter to the Treasury Department inspector general demanding a review of the IRS denying a Texas religious group tax-exempt status.

The group was denied the exception for having Bible teachings deemed associated with Republicans.

"The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) appears to be engaging again in viewpoint discrimination. According to a recent report, the IRS improperly denied tax-exempt status to a religious group on the basis that 'bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates," the House members said in their letter.

The letter is referencing a May 18 letter by Stephen A. Martin, director of the IRS Office of Exempt Organizations Rulings and Agreements, to Texas-based prayer and Bible study group Christians Engaged.

In the letter, Martin said the group did not qualify for tax exemption because "bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under [Internal Revenue Code] 501(c)(3)."

The congressional Republicans said in their letter: "The IRS’s denial of tax-exempt status to Christians Engaged on the assumption that Bible teaching is an activity 'typically' associated with Republicans is wrong and outrageous. Federal law allows a religious group to obtain tax-exempt status. IRS regulations permit a tax-exempt organization to 'take positions on public policy issues, including issues that divide candidates in an election for public office.'"

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