The Senate recount is underway, Mike Tice wants to be a head coach in the National Football League (Good luck with that, big fella.), and the Dow is down more than 170 points in early trading. Those were some of the topics kicking around 425 Portland this morning. But the one piece of news that really grabbed our attention was the Internal Revenue Service/Mac Hammond dispute. The IRS wants Hammond's Living World Christian Center to release information on the jet the church bought for Hammond and some details on his compensation. Seems like Hammond won round one. A U.S. district magistrate sided with the church, although it may be because of a technicality: The magistrate said the IRS official who started the tax investigation wasn't ranked high enough in the agency to make that decision. The separation of church and state does give the IRS a high bar to clear, but the agency should enforce rules that provide churches with tax-exempt status. Those of us who pay taxes deserve that basic level of accountability. So do the church's donors. Living Word and Hammond may have done nothing to violate IRS regulations. But in the spirt of transparency, it seems like the agency should be able to give the church's finances a thorough review. What do you think?
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A valuable conversation in columnist's series.