[Admin note: Misuse of money destroys the witness of many about the greatness of GOD. Spending ministry money (no matter the source) for benefit of individuals and “walking the thin line” of the IRS regulations is not the testimony we need in these days. How could you call these people ‘spiritual leaders’? Not upset about money but about testimony. Bold and tears by admin.]
Lee Zurik Investigation: Could ministries face IRS issues?
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It’s hard to miss one of St. Charles Parish’s largest home construction projects ever. It’s a mansion being built by Jesse Duplantis Ministries. When done, it’s expected to be the home of the head of that ministry, Jesse Duplantis.
Parish records show covered area in the home approaches 35,000 square feet. About 22,000 of living space and another 13,000 in accessory space like the garage.
The five bedroom, more than seven bathroom house with a home theater, is listed to cost about $3 million dollars to build. After FOX 8 News received calls from many people saying the house would cost more, we called the contractor, who wouldn’t give us a comment. St. Charles Parish officials say a house assessed at $3 million would pay about $33,000 a year in taxes.
But because the ministry is the owner, it won’t be subject to paying any property taxes. And the money donated to build that house won’t be taxed either.
“Everyone of your listeners is paying for Jesse Duplantis’ lifestyle,” Ole Anthony of the Dallas based Trinity Foundation said. “Because every dollars he takes in is taken in from donations and every donation is a tax deduction for all of the people who gave. So for everybody in American and in your Parish, they are paying for Jesse Duplantis’ house.”
In addition to donations, Duplantis’ ministry also takes in money from DVD, book, clothing, and accessory sales.
Taxpayers may be missing out on money from Jesse Duplantis Ministries private plane too. Duplantis blocks his travel schedule from being public. FOX 8 was able to obtain those records.
The travel records show Duplantis’ plane took a 17 day trip to Hawaii in 2009. It hopped from island to island.
The plane took another trip to Hawaii this year. That trip took 11 days.
Also, Jesse Duplantis Ministries plane has taken 11 different trips to Las Vegas.
We talked to one airplane operator, who has the same jet as Duplantis. By his calculations, the first 17 day Hawaii trip cost his ministry $40,000. That includes the cost to gas up, fly, and store the plane at the airport in Hawaii for 17 days.
“It appears as though on the surface that Duplantis is using his jet to go on vacation from time to time,” Pete Evans of the Trinity Foundation said.
And if those Hawaii, Las Vegas, and other trips are personal, Loyola Business Professor and CPA, Dane Ciolino says Duplantis needs to account for those trips as income.
“You would have to recognize the value to use that plane,” Lynch said. “Not to take commercial fare to use that plane. And that should be recorded as income for him.”
Another televangelist, White Dove Fellowships Michael Mille, also has a private plane. On February 7th of this year, White Dove’s plane flew to Miami for the day. It left New Orleans that morning and returned that night. It’s the same day the Saints played in the Super Bowl in Miami. If that’s a personal trip, again, Mille must report that as income to the IRS.
“The church needs to give him a W-2 reflective of the value of that plane’s use,” Lynch said. “And he needs to report that as compensation.”
Mille also has some questionable property transactions.
Jefferson Parish Documents show in August of 2007, Mille and his wife purchased a property on Barataria Boulevard from the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The cost was $850,000. The property was purchased in Mille’s name.
About three months later, records show Mille and his wife then sold the property to their church, White Dove Fellowship. The church paid $1.2 million. So in a little more than 90 days, Mille and his wife appear to have made an almost $400,000 profit from the church. This is one of the 3 transactions where Mille appears to have made a profit.
“It seems to me he could be profiting from the church’s revenue stream,” Lynch said. “Self dealing as you will. At that point that would then be a prohibitive transaction and the IRS could go after his church and revoke its tax exempt status.”
Church’s like White Dove and Jesse Duplantis Ministries are 501C3 organizations under IRS Code. They are tax exempt. But Patrick Lynch from Loyola says the revenues they get should only be used for funding the purpose of their exempt status.
“No individual should be benefiting from those proceeds,” Lynch said. “Then they can call that a sham and the church can lose its exempt status.”
We tried to get interviews with Duplantis and Mille for our series of stories. They never returned our phone calls.