DES MOINES, Iowa —
Is it illegal, spiritual, or both? What’s in question is if the Iowaska Church of Healing can have tax-exempt status while using a drug called ayahuasca.
The Des Moines-based church is registered to a home on the city’s north side, was founded in 2018 and had at least 20 members at one time, according to court filings. The church sued the IRS over its denial of 501(c)(3) status.
In March, a federal judge ruled the IRS correctly denied the application for tax-exempt status, saying the church does not fully operate for exempt purposes and ayahuasca remains illegal under federal law.
The church filed an appeal of the ruling just days ago.
What’s also in question is a 2006 Supreme Court ruling where the court sided with a New Mexico-based church and against the federal government for seizing its ayahuasca.
“The church in the Supreme Court case was then, and is still today, recognized as an Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) organization, and the IRS admitted in the record that my client’s activities are “strikingly similar” to those practiced by the church in the Supreme Court case,” said Attorney William Boatwright, who represents Iowaska Church of Healing. The church, according to the IRS website is still a public charity
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