By Hilary White
  WASHINGTON, July 20, 2006 ( – The Internal Revenue Service of the US has issued a warning to churches that it will not wait until tax return time to go after churches that the agency judges to be indulging in political campaigning.
  As in Canada, the US keeps close restrictions against direct involvement of churches in political campaigns, using the threat against the churches’ tax-exempt status as the stick.
  The Associated Press reports that more than 15,000 tax-exempt organizations received the notices. The agency’s new enforcement program, called the Political Activity Compliance Initiative, will rely upon complaints and will expedite investigations into claims of improper campaigning.
“While the vast majority of charities and churches do not engage in politicking, an increasing number did take part in prohibited activities in the 2004 election cycle,” IRS Commissioner Mark W.  Everson said in a statement. “The rule against political campaign intervention by charities and churches is long established. We are stepping up our efforts to enforce it.”