Schiff Calls for GAO Investigation of IRS

WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier today, Congressman Adam Schiff called for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation of the IRS practices regarding the tax-exempt status of churches and other houses of worship.  Following news reports that All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena was under investigation after an anti-war sermon that was given by Rev. George Regas in 2004, Rep. Schiff requested a report from the IRS on its practices. He has now joined with two other members in a bipartisan request for a formal GAO investigation.   

“While the federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections, the faith community has every right to express itself on the major issues of the day.  An overzealous IRS must not be permitted to chill the speech of the nation's clergy on matters of such great importance as war and peace,” said Schiff. 

The letter asks for an investigation that provides: 

• Details regarding any IRS inquiries of tax-exempt organizations alleging political campaign activity that have been initiated in the last five years, including a detailed account of the allegedly objectionable content or acts. 

• An analysis of the genesis or source of each IRS inquiry alleging improper activity in this area.

• An analysis of the final resolution of each such IRS inquiry, including a determination of whether such tax-exempt organizations admitted wrongdoing in order to settle the matter with the IRS.

Congressmen Walter Jones (R-NC) and Joseph Pitts (R-PA) also signed the letter.  GAO is an independent, non-partisan agency that is commonly called the “investigative arm of Congress.”

 Congressman Schiff the co-founder of the Democratic Study Group on National Security and a member of both the House Judiciary and International Relations committees.  He was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles for six years before running for elected office.  He represents California’s 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.