Church has acted in good faith to cooperate, position has not changed
NEWARK, Texas, July 14 /Standard Newswire/ -- Eagle Mountain International Church/Kenneth Copeland Ministries (the "Church") has reviewed Senator Grassley's July 7, 2008, "Memorandum to Reporters and Editors" on the status of the responses and level of cooperation received from the six church ministries who are the subject of the Senator's investigation that began in November 2007.
The Church's position continues to be that it has responded to the request of Senator Grassley in good faith and to the greatest extent possible without compromising the privacy, confidentiality, and freedom of association rights and protections afforded to the Church by the United States Constitution and the Internal Revenue Code (the "Code").
As stated in the Church's letters of December 6, 2007, and March 31, 2008, to Senators Grassley and Baucus, and in discussions with Committee staff members, the Church continues to believe that the most timely and efficient way for the Committee to obtain the requested confidential information -- without compromising the universally recognized fundamental constitutional and statutorily based rights of this Church and all religious institutions -- is for the IRS to request and obtain the information through a "church tax inquiry" under section 7611 of the Code. At the completion of the 90-day inquiry period provided by section 7611 of the Code, the IRS would have in its possession and available for disclosure to Senator Grassley all of the confidential information, including financial data, Senator Grassley is seeking from the Church.
Through this well-established statutory process, Senator Grassley and his staff could then obtain all of the information they seek through a request made under section 6103 of the Code, which would provide the Church with the confidentiality protections to which it is entitled. Had the Senator pursued this course suggested by the Church back in December, he would have the information he is seeking available to him at this time. The Senator's suggestion that the Church or its attorneys are being uncooperative or seeking to prolong the process is simply untrue.
Indeed, in an effort to expedite the process, in April the Church took the unprecedented step of pledging its cooperation to the IRS should the IRS undertake a church tax inquiry of the Church. Church and KCM CEO John Copeland said in a statement following his delivery of the letter to IRS offices in
The Church respects the oversight role of the Senate Finance Committee and specifically the many efforts of Senator Grassley to provide oversight of tax-exempt organizations. Indeed, the Church has voluntarily adopted and adheres to policies and procedures that the Senator has publicly suggested over the years are appropriate governance practices for tax-exempt organizations.
However, the Church respectfully disagrees with Senator Grassley's position that churches are no different from any other tax-exempt organization. Any government inquiry into the affairs of a church raises serious constitutional issues that must be carefully balanced against the government's need to evaluate the effectiveness of the laws of the land. To ensure its constitutional rights are not unnecessarily infringed upon, the Church firmly believes that it must be given the protections from disclosure afforded by the federal tax laws and the benefit of the processes and procedures that apply to inquires of churches made by the IRS. Without such confidentiality and due process of law, the potential exists for the information to be used in an effort to damage or attempt to embarrass the Church, its pastors, and its members. Any such use of the information provided interferes with, and ultimately threatens, the religious liberties of this Church, the thousands of other Pentecostal and