The United States Supreme Court meets today to decide if it will hear the case of an Indianapolis church set to be seized by U.S. Marshals for not withholding certain employment taxes from employees’ paychecks.
As reported by WorldNetDaily, the Indianapolis Baptist Temple stands by its convictions that a church and its property belong only to God. However, what individuals choose to do with the money they receive from the church is their own decision, said IBT’s attorney Al Cunningham.
Cunningham said the Internal Revenue Service audited approximately 60 of the church’s ministers and found they had all filed their own tax forms and paid all taxes due, including the total amount of their FICA taxes. Therefore, the taxes in question had already been paid, the church claims. Nevertheless, Indianapolis Baptist Temple says the IRS sent half of the FICA taxes back, saying the church should have collected and remitted them instead of the individuals who paid them.
“The church isn’t taxed, but individuals are,” Cunningham told WorldNetDaily last month. “So some people go ahead and pay it.”
Church founder and Pastor Emeritus Greg J. Dixon says the issue is one of control. Since the taxes have been paid by individuals, there was no financial reason for the IRS to target the church, he maintains. Nevertheless, the church was assessed approximately $6 million in back taxes and penalties, and Federal Judge Sarah Evans Barker ordered its property seized by U.S. Marshals.
Barker ordered the property vacated by noon on Nov. 14. Instead, members and friends of the church rallied together and have occupied the property 24 hours a day for 60 consecutive days.
According to an IBT press release, “high officials of the U.S. Justice department have ordered Federal Marshal Frank Anderson to seize a 50-year-old mainline Baptist Church before George W. Bush is sworn into office.” Cunningham said his source for the information is confidential.
“Common sense tells me that while the Supreme Court is actually looking at the case that they won’t do anything until [the court] makes a decision one way or the other on it,” he said yesterday.
In the meantime, the marshal’s office has advised church occupants and visitors to remove their vehicles from the property, as they may be towed or taken into government custody when the seizure takes place. Cunningham explained the advisory is necessary “to lower the risk of somebody getting hurt.”
Cunningham says the last two months have “been a very rewarding time for those of us who have been here.” Those involved in the standoff have grown closer and are “renewing our faith in the Lord as we go along,” he added.
The Supreme Court is expected on Tuesday to make public its decision as to whether or not it will hear IBT’s appeal. Four of the nine justices on the high court must vote in favor of hearing the appeal, or the lower court’s decision upholding the IRS’ assessment against the church will stand.