Brooklyn Park Megachurch Smites IRS in Info Showdown

james-mac-hammond.jpgIn a showdown with the Internal Revenue Service, a controversial Brooklyn Park megachurch appears to have won the most recent round with the federal government.

A U.S. district magistrate judge’s recommendation, issued Tuesday, sides with the Living Word Christian Center. The church had argued that it didn’t have to provide detailed financial information focusing on the compensation of its founder and senior pastor, James (Mac) Hammond, requested by the IRS.
Earlier this year, the IRS petitioned the U.S. District Court to force the church to answer its demand for information. The church argued that the request wasn’t made by a “high-ranking official” as required by law, and the magistrate judge agreed.
A U.S. District Court judge will decide whether to follow that recommendation.
The IRS and an attorney representing the government couldn’t be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Amy Rotenberg, an attorney and spokeswoman for the church, said Hammond and other church officials are pleased with the magistrate’s recommendation.
“We recognize that churches must abide by the tax laws of the United States, and we have,” she said. “But Congress intended … that government needs to tread very carefully when it’s going to enforce the Internal Revenue Code with regard to churches because of the sensitivity in the relationship between government and churches.”
The IRS didn’t meet the threshold that Congress set, she said.
“It’s important that all of those hoops that Congress wanted the IRS to jump through be actually jumped through,” Rotenberg said. “And that protects all of us, all people of all faiths. All faith communities will benefit by the structure that Congress put in place, which was to recognize the necessity of separating church and state.”
Source: Minneapolis/St. Paul Star-Tribune
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