IRS Unveils New Tax Where Pastors Are Not Excluded

A report reveals that Kenneth Copeland, a televangelist located in Texas, said in 2017 that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that the Almighty had provided his ministry with a Gulfstream V plane. Copeland bought the aircraft from director Tyler Perry that year. He then made a video celebrating the acquisition and asked for $2.5 million.

Copeland is among a small group of prosperity gospel preachers that see private planes as necessary for their work. In 2019, Copeland said that if he flew commercial, he would need to stop sixty-five percent of what he was doing.

The IRS increased the tax rate for noncommercial flights on employer-provided aircraft made between January and June 2023, as revealed last week by the watchdog group Trinity Foundation, which tracks religious fraud.

Employees must report the value of personal flights taken on company planes as part of their taxable income. According to the new information, taxpayers will have to pay a terminal fee of $52.35 for each personal trip, an increase of $8.17 from the previous rate, and up to $0.28 per mile, which is based on the duration of the journey. Pastors are also affected by these changes.

Typically, tax-exempt organizations must disclose such flights on IRS Form 990, but churches are not required to, according to Samuel Brunson, an associate dean at Loyola University Chicago who studies the intersection of religion and taxation. This means that the public has no idea whether or not church leaders use ministry-owned jets for personal use.

According to a report, audited financial accounts and IRS Form 990s show that ministries and churches routinely spend millions of dollars each year on luxury business planes.

The Florida-based non-profit branch of Trinity Broadcasting Network, Trinity Broadcasting of Florida (TBF), upgraded its aging Bombardier Global Express plane to a newer 2010 model in 2017. TBF recorded $8,814,590 in depreciation on its 2017 Form 990, but it did not specify how much of it was for airplanes.