WASHINGTON (RNS)—Complaints about improper politicking by tax-exempt organizations went up 43 percent in the 2006 elections compared to 2004, according to a report by the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS was asked to investigate 237 cases involving churches and other organizations as part of the agency's Political Activities Com-pliance Initiative for the 2006 election year. In 2004, the IRS received 166 complaints.
But only 100 cases were retained for examination by IRS officials in 2006, a figure that remained relatively stable from the 110 cases examined in 2004. Forty-four of last year's cases involved churches; 56 were non-church organizations.
“In our view, the IRS public-awareness program contributed to the rise in the number of referrals we received,” a report on the 2006 initiative stated.
Most of the 2006 cases remain open, but cases involving 14 churches and 26 non-church groups had been closed by end of the first quarter in 2007. Of the 14 churches, four were issued written advisories for improper political intervention, and 10 were cleared.
Allegations about inappropriate political campaigning ranged from distributing documents supporting candidates to improper use of an organization's facilities.
Charges that a church official made a statement endorsing candidates during “normal services” were made 13 times in the 2006 election and 19 times in 2004.