Mormon critics challenge church’s tax-exempt status

HONOLULU (AP) — Mormon critics are asking the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to investigate allegations that the church uses a Hawaii cultural center to commit tax fraud.

Gay-rights activist and Mormon critic Fred Karger delivered a complaint to a Honolulu IRS office Thursday asking for an investigation into possible tax abuses involving the Polynesian Cultural Center, Brigham Young University-Hawaii and a Hawaii land management company.

The complaint comes after Mormon critics aired television ads last year seeking information that could harm the church’s tax-exempt status.

A church spokesman declined to comment. An IRS spokeswoman says the agency doesn’t comment on taxpayer cases or investigations.

Karger says it’s unlikely the tax-exempt status will be revoked, but he hopes the attention forces changes. He’s also seeking investigations from other government agencies.

The Utah-based church has 16 million members worldwide, including 74,000 in Hawaii.