Monday, January 13, 2020

Challenge To Form 990 Rules Is Dismissed

In Nonbelief Relief, Inc. v. Rettig, (D DC, Jan. 10, 2020), the D.C. federal district court dismissed a challenge by a non-profit organization to the exemption which excuses churches from filing an annual form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service.  NonBelief Relief was formed to assist atheists and other non-religious individuals.  It contributes funds to other charitable organizations. When NonBelief Relief failed to file its Form 990 for three years, its tax-exempt status was revoked.  It then sued seeking an injunction reinstating its status, and a declaratory judgment that the church exemption violates the Establishment Clause.  The court first held that the Anti-Injunction Act and the Declaratory Judgment Act bar granting relief:
... the award of an injunction or declaratory judgment on NonBelief Relief’s behalf would restrain the government’s collection of taxes against NonBelief and its donors.
The court went on to hold that once NonBelief Relief's tax exempt status was revoked, it lost standing to challenge the constitutionality of the church exemption from filing Form 990:
NonBelief Relief alleges that it suffered an injury when, as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, it was required to file a Form 990, while churches and other religious institutions were not. But assuming that is so, that injury is neither ongoing nor imminent, because NonBelief Relief is no longer a tax-exempt organization and has expressed no intent to reapply for that status..... [I]t is being treated the same as all other non-501(c)(3) organizations.