Americans United told the IRS that Falwell endorsed Bush in a July 1 e-mail to supporters and also urged followers to send money to a political action committee that supports Republican candidates. Falwell also posted the partisan election-year appeal on his ministry website.
The PAC in question is Gary Bauer’s Campaign for Working Families.
This is not the first time that Falwell ran afoul of the IRS. In 1993 the IRS retroactively found that, in 1986 and 1987, Falwell’s Old Time Gospel Hour had channeled funds to a congressional PAC. Falwell had to pay $50,000 in back taxes and sign a statement acknowledging the settlement. On the 2nd of July, Falwell and AU’s executive director the Rev. Barry W. Lynn appeared together on CNBC’s “Capital Report”, at which time Falwell denied his run-in with the IRS.
“Never,” Falwell shouted. “Never. Never. Not one minute. Not one second. You are wrong…. Never one second did we lose our tax exemption.” He later added, “You are telling a lie right now, Barry.”
Since lying is only one of the big ten under restrcted circumstances, Jerry is apparently still OK with his God on this one.
If the IRS were to find against Falwell’s ministry, not only would the ministry lose its tax exempt status and (potentially) be subject to an excise tax, contributions would not be deductible. That would be nice, but I’m not betting any money on it.