Trump thinks Scientology should lose tax-exempt status
President Trump has thrown his support behind removing the Church of Scientology’s tax-exempt status, according to a Huffington Post report.
Twitter messages from a Trump family friend and top official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development claim that Trump and his family “couldn’t agree more” that the church should lose its tax-exempt status.
“From The moment I saw your series I told President Trump & his family we needed to revoke their tax exempt status. They couldn’t agree more, but please don’t publicize that yet,” Lynne Patton wrote to actress Leah Remini in the messages obtained by HuffPost. “This is going to get done in the next 4 years or I’ll die trying. Knock on wood!”
Patton is a longtime friend and business associate of the Trump family who has worked with the Trumps since 2009. Last year, she spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention in June.
Remini, who starred on the hit series “King of Queens,” is behind the Emmy Award-winning show “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.” The show is a documentary examining the Church of Scientology, which Remini left in 2013, and its alleged abuse of critics.
“I look forward to doing my part to help put an end to this ongoing nightmare and blatant misuse of our IRS rules & regulations,” Patton wrote to Remini. “I want to do more research on Scientology’s history with the IRS, to date, so that I can better understand what tactics have been applied and where we can pick up.”
It is unclear if Patton ever communicated with the IRS, and a request for comment from the Huffington Post was not immediately answered. Experts told the Huffington Post that such an urging from an administration official would likely be illegal.
“For the White House or any administration official to try and influence who the IRS targets, for whatever reason, is wrong and could result in a violation of the law,” said Larry Noble, a former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission. “The IRS must make these decisions independently without any influence by the White House or administration officials.”
The IRS website states that “the IRS may begin a church tax inquiry only if an appropriate high-level Treasury official reasonably believes, on the basis of facts and circumstances recorded in writing, that an organization claiming to be a church or convention or association of churches may not qualify for exemption.”