Tuesday, March 2, 2010

There is a House in DC

They call C Street house, which is the target of a complaint filed with the IRS by 13 Ohio clergy members:
The owners of a $1.8 million townhouse on Capitol Hill that has been home and refuge to conservative members of Congress are wrongly claiming a federal tax exemption reserved for religious establishments, 13 Ohio clergy members contend in a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service.

The clergy suspect that the C Street Center, which rents living space to lawmakers, is "an exclusive club for powerful officials . . . masquerading as a church," according to a request for an investigation addressed to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman.

The Ohio clergy, all Protestant members of Clergy Voice, say that the house serves no public interest and has no recognized creed or form of worship.

A quick Google search of Clergy Voice shows the group is largely progressive so this may be an ideological attack more than it is a concern for the separation of church and state.

I don't know anything about this house and why the owner, The C Street Center, enjoys tax exempt status but apparently DC authorities have already taken a look at it and determined that its activities are 66% taxable and 34% tax exempt. Sounds reasonable; tax exempt organizations pay tax on its non-tax exempt activities. The IRS may have already made the same determination so there may not be much here.

The article has former residents and affiliates not returning phone calls or distancing themselves from the house so it doesn't look good. It may not be. But my sense is that a lot of this kind of thing is going on and, if you don't like it, once again, take a look at your Congressmen. They're the ones who write the tax laws.

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