NEW YORK (November 4, 2012)--Churches that engage in partisan political activity have been getting a free pass from the Internal Revenue Service for the past three years.
The IRS hasn't been investigating complaints, leaving religious groups who make direct or thinly veiled endorsements of political candidates unchallenged.
Russell Renwicks, a manager in the IRS Mid-Atlantic region, recently said the agency had suspended audits of churches suspected of breaching federal restrictions on political activity.
A 2009 federal court ruling required the IRS to clarify which high-ranking official could authorize audits over the tax code's political rules, but the IRS has yet to do so.
The tax code allows a wide range of political activity by houses of worship, but churches cannot endorse a candidate or engage in partisan advocacy.
Critics say there's been a number of violations this presidential election.
Religious leaders say they are speaking about public policies.