Internal Revenue Service and the regulation of religion

Author/s: Paul Castronova
Availability: Open Access
Type: Thesis
Year: 2024
Category: Logic
Institution: Baylor University

Abstract: This study seeks to determine how the Internal Revenue Service influences religion in the United States. Using the theoretical frameworks of organizational ecology and new institutionalism this study examines the assumption that America has an unregulated religious economy. In particular, I look at the sociological impact of defining a 'church' for tax-exempt purposes. Given the constitutional constraints of the First Amendment, the IRS is one the few federal agencies that produces definitive work on religion in United States. In the 1970s, attempting to stop increasing abuse of church exemptions as a form of tax evasion, the IRS developed policies that have impacted countless religions. Using historical records and current organizational theories this study shows that though the policies may seem impartial, in reality, they impede the development of new, marginal, and foreign religions. I conclude by proposing an empirical analysis of these claims and a new source of data on organizational aspects of new religions.

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