Investigating the Parsonage Exemption: What Would Televangelists Pay if Houses Weren’t Tax Exempt?

(Photo: Inside Edition shows the outside of televangelist Ron Carpenter’s luxurious Fremont, California-parsonage.)


Inside Edition recently investigated the topic of tax-exempt parsonages. The news report featured drone footage and pictures of some of America’s largest church-owned mansions.  Investigative reporter Lisa Guerrero attempted to interview televangelist Jesse Duplantis regarding his residence, but he refused to answer questions.

Associate Pastor and Political Scientist Ryan Burge told Inside Edition, “If you have a multi-million-dollar house, your property tax bill could be thirty, forty, fifty thousand dollars a year. But if it’s classified as a parsonage, now you don’t have to pay property taxes on that home. That $50,000 could pay the salary of an elementary school teacher in your local public school.”

The property-tax exemption on church and ministry-owned homes is governed by state laws. It differs from the parsonage housing allowance which was created by Congress and involves a tax exemption from the federal income tax.

In 2021, a Houston Chronicle investigation identified 28 parsonages in Texas worth more than $1 million.

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“God Told Me” to Pocket Cryptocurrency Invested Funds—a New Twist on Religious Affinity Fraud

(Photo: Pastor Eligio Regalado)

January 16th, 2024–Colorado State’s Attorney General charged Pastor Eligio Regalado, whose surname ironically can mean ‘Gifted’ or ‘Given’, his wife Kaitlyn (also goes by the name Kathy), and their companies INDXCOIN, LLC, KINGDOM WEALTH EXCHANGE INC, KINGDOM WEALTH EXCHANGE LLC, GRACE LED MARKETERS, LLC, etc. on (also goes by the name Kathy) with civil fraud for creating, marketing, and selling a cryptocurrency called INDXcoin and then spending over a third of the invested funds ($1.3 million) on themselves.

Regalado, who pastors the online only Victorious Grace Church, announced his plan last April and soon sold the crypto coins to his and other Christian communities in the Denver under the moniker “Kingdom Wealth Exchange, LLC”.  The project launched in June and then shut down in November.

We hope believers will take note and beware of religious affinity fraud. Affinity fraud leverages and exploits inherent trust within a group. For example, a fraudster may target a specific religious congregation. Oftentimes, the person will try to enlist the help of the leader of the group to market the investment scheme. In which case, the leader becomes an unwitting pawn in the fraudulent scheme. In this case, however, the pastor was the perpetrator.

One well-known example is Bernard Madoff who targeted Jewish communities.  It’s not just a cliché when we say there is more money stolen in the name of God than any other way.

Ms. Tung Chan, Securities Commissioner for Colorado, said “We allege that Mr. Regalado took advantage of the trust and faith of his own Christian community and that he peddled outlandish promises of wealth to them when he sold them essentially worthless cryptocurrencies.”

Commissioner Chan’s civil complaint against the Regalado couple claims that from June 2022 to April 2023, the ill-fated crypto exchange raised more than $3.2 million from over 300 investors and that the couple’s sales pitches were filled with “prayer and quotes from the Bible, encouraging investors to have faith that their investment … would lead to ‘abundance’ and ‘blessings.’”

INDX Coin began trading its cryptocurrency on June 22, 2023.  In its launch video that same day, “Pastor” Regalado said, “So this is the Kingdom Way, the Kingdom Way is to distribute even when you don’t have enough, trusting that God is going to multiply what you give thanks for.”

NOTE: This wishful thinking is one of the basic lies of the so-called “prosperity gospel.”

During INDXcoin’s launch video on Twitter/X, Regalado read Jesus’ miracle of feeding thousands of people with just a few loaves and fishes and applying this spectacular miracle to his Kingdom Wealth Exchange’s cryptocurrency.

Eli Regalado actually admitted to the theft in a video a few days after the charges were filed, saying, “The charges are that Kaitlyn and I pocketed 1.3 million dollars, and I just want to come out and say that those charges are true,” he said, adding, “A few hundred thousand dollars went to a home remodel that the Lord told us to do.”

Eli Regalado also said, “It’s not like we had $1 million sitting there and decided to go crazy with it”.  You judge. Commissioner Chan’s legal complaint states that investment proceeds went directly to defendants Eli and Kaitlyn, or was used for their own personal benefit, including jewelry, handbags and lavish vacations and other expenses.

The Regalado couple owns a house and a condo in Lakewood Colorado. The real estate website Redfin says the home is a “2,088 square foot house on a 3.24 acre lot with 4 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms” and that “This home is currently off market. Based on Redfin’s Lakewood data, we estimate the home’s value is $1,126,521.”  Redfin estimates the two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 837 square feet condo is worth $363,985.

Eligio Regalado incorporated the online church in 2020 and is its registered agent.  The articles of incorporation for the church say that “No part of the earnings of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of or be distributable to any private individual or person; provided, however, that the corporation may pay reasonable compensation …” These good intentions lasted less than two years.

Note that according to Commissioner Chan’s civil fraud complaint, Victorious Grace Church has only two employees (Defendants Eli and Kaitlyn) and operates from the Regalado’s house, their recreational vehicle, or from the Regalado’s vacation destinations.

Earlier this month, we published a video about red flags to look out for and here are some we covered plus another one that time didn’t allow us to address:

  • Beware if a person claims to hear from God about what others should do.
  • Beware if a person believes he or she claims they have God’s favor to perform miracles.
  • Beware if a person comes up with a way to raise money for others and then spends it on themselves.
  • Beware if a person tells others they will become wealthy if they give or invest in a certain organization supposedly ordained of God.
  • Beware of online only, TV only, or mail-order-only churches with no actual membership who can, as it happens, literally meet in person.

Many major news outlets reported on the story.

People Magazine: Denver Pastor Says ‘the Lord Told Him’ to Steal $1.3 M from Christians to Remodel Home

CNN: A Colorado pastor says God told him to launch a crypto venture. He’s now accused of pocketing $1.3 million from his followers

BBC: Colorado pastor accused of multimillion dollar crypto scheme

LAW&CRIME: The lord told us to’: Online pastor says God told him to ‘pocket’ $1.3M after charges filed in alleged cryptocurrency scam

We ask our readers a question?  Do you think the Regalados should sell their expensive house and move into their two-bedroom condo and distribute the proceeds of the sale to the defrauded investors?

The answer is obvious.

Church, Pastor and Ministry Leader Homes Sold in 2023

According to Psychology Today, “Our home conveys messages about who we are.” This is true about pastors whose homes range from modest to extravagant.

More than 2,000 years ago the prophet Micah wrote, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

The following homes were sold in 2023.

While we avoid posting current addresses of living religious leaders to avoid doxing them, this article does link to real estate website listings for former homes. In some cases, these pastors have lived in homes financially unobtainable by most of their church members.

For comparison’s sake, the lowest priced property on this list is $455,000 which is more expensive than most homes sold in America. According to real estate website Redfin, “The median price of a home in the United States is currently $414,633.”

Each of the beach houses and beach condos on this list were secondary homes for their owners.

Glen Berteau Ministries

Glen and Deborah Berteau, founders of The House Modesto megachurch,  sold their Florida beach house in February for $795,000.

Redfin reports, “Location is everything and this Florida Cottage is within 1/2 mile to the beach & just 100 yards to Legion Park, a public boat ramp/park on the bay.”


Hillsong Property Holdings LLC acquired a home in Newport Beach, one of America’s most expensive cities in 2015 for $2,180,000 and sold it in 2023 for $3,525,000.

Investigators and journalists wondered if this home was the residence of Brian Houston, the founder of megachurch Hillsong.

Redfin describes the property: “A true live/work residence. Downstairs includes a large open Commercial Office Space that has its own separate entrance and its own full bathroom. Parking for 6 cars including an attached 2-car garage.”

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Non-profit Ministry Compensates Founder Almost $1 Million While Running $580,000 Deficit

(Photo: Cindy Trimm appearing in Bible study on YouTube.)

In 2021, Cindy Trimm received $984,549 in compensation from Cindy Trimm Ministries International. Meanwhile, the ministry generated almost $1.5 million in revenue while spending more than $2 million, resulting in a deficit of $580,607.

Trimm’s compensation was disclosed in a Form 990 filed with the IRS.

In 2020, Trimm received $72,000 in compensation, so in 2021 she received a 1,267% pay increase. However, the ministry failed to disclose how it determined Trimm’s compensation.

(Photo: No boxes were selected on Schedule J of the 2021 Form.)

Under normal circumstances a compensation study or compensation committee would recommend the salary for Trimm. During a board meeting,  Trimm would recuse herself and the remaining board members would vote to approve or reject the compensation recommendation.

Why would Trimm receive such a large pay increase? Where did the money go?

In September 2021, Trimm purchased a home in McDonough, Georgia, for $775,000. According to the Redfin real estate website, the property is in a “gated golf course community” and now worth $1.8 million.

Continue reading “Non-profit Ministry Compensates Founder Almost $1 Million While Running $580,000 Deficit”

Televangelist Jesse Duplantis: $500 Million Is Not Enough

Jesse Duplantis has stage presence. Before he became a preacher, Jesse Duplantis performed in a touring rock band. By combining the prosperity gospel and comedy, televangelist Jesse Duplantis has built a large following.

Early this month Duplantis preached at the annual Southwest Believers Convention hosted in Fort Worth, Texas, by televangelist Kenneth Copeland.

Duplantis has a knack for saying controversial things and telling wild stories. In his sermon Vision Creates Direction, Duplantis preached, “I never ask God for a need. What a waste of spiritual energy. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of in my life.”

Duplantis uses a mafia character voice to say, “I know how to get rid of people… You do what you gotta do.” Duplantis would later tell the audience that a mafia boss offered to make him “a made-man”—a fully initiated member of the mafia.

Duplantis enjoys talking about his wealth. “You are looking at one rich puppy here. I’m not being arrogant. I’m telling you one thing. You have no idea.”

During its 43 years of operation, donors have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to Jesse Duplantis Ministries. Duplantis claims his ministry received $500 million in response to prayers.

“I thought I could save the world with a hundred million dollars. So, I went to the throne of God. He said, ‘What do you want, Jesse?’ He didn’t ask what I need. He’s never asked what I need… ‘I said, Lord, I need a hundred million dollars.’ I said, ‘I can touch the world for a hundred million dollars.’ He said, ‘Done.’ Gave me a hundred million dollars… Well, I ran out of money, so I went back to the throne. I said, ‘Jesus.’ He said, ‘You need another hundred million. I said, ‘Yeah.’ He gave me another hundred million.”

Duplantis says that a third time God gave Duplantis’ ministry $100 million, and it was all spent in nine months. Eventually he would ask five times and God would give his ministry $500 million. It still was “not enough to touch the world.”

The first century Church could teach Duplantis some valuable lessons. With limited financial means and no modern technology, they “turned the world upside down.”  – Acts 17:6 KJV

This amazing church growth happened without the prosperity gospel.

Lawsuit: Religious TV Executive Owes Almost $18 Million in Taxes; Media Misses Bigger Picture

(Photo: The Word Network appeals primarily to African American audiences.)

The United States has filed a lawsuit in federal court, attempting to seize  Word Network president Kevin Adell’s $4.4 million Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-home, alleging the radio and TV broadcaster owes almost $18 million in estate and gift taxes, following the death of his father, Franklin Adell in 2006.

The case has received little news coverage outside of Michigan. The Detroit Free Press and Crain’s Detroit Business have covered the story. Journalists reporting on Adell’s legal problems have missed a bigger story: Adell has exploited a loophole in the law, crafted for churches, to avoid disclosing millions of dollars in compensation.

Who is Kevin Adell?

(Screenshot: Kevin Adell being interviewed following Novi city council approval to build the Adell Center.)

Kevin Adell is a broadcaster and serial entrepreneur involved in commercial real estate development. In addition to operating The Word Network, Adell owns talk radio station WFDF and WADL-TV, but not for much longer, as the pending sale of the TV station was announced May 17th  and Wikipedia reports the sale price at $75 million.

Adell constructed the $125 million Adell Center, a business complex in Novi, Michigan, featuring restaurants, shops and indoor skydiving.

Adell also owns a massive car collection. In 2019, Hagerty Media revealed that Adell had a “fleet of 100 or so automobiles—plus one special tractor.”  Adell is reportedly the only American owner of a Lamborghini Nitro 130 T4i tractor.

Adell’s collection features iconic vehicles from TV shows and movies. According to Hagerty, Adell “owns one Batmobile, one Bat motorcycle, the General Lee Dodge Charger from ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ (minus its rebel flag), Burt Reynolds’ Trans Am from ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’ and the faux Ferrari 250GT California Spyder launched off a balcony in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.'”

The Lawsuit

The case United States of America v. Adell et al was filed on April 24th. According to the complaint, when Franklin Adell died, he left a “gross estate valued at $32,930,891.”

The lawsuit alleges that Kevin Adell owes $9,775,326.65 in unpaid estate taxes and $8,178,714.47 in unpaid gift taxes. The lawsuit claims, “Kevin Adell dissipated the Adell Estate’s assets and knowingly and willfully failed to pay the estate tax liabilities the Adell Estate owed to the United States.”

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Updated Tax Rates on Televangelists Making Personal Flights on Church Aircraft

(Photo: Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Bombardier Global Express)

Twice per year the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) updates the tax rate charged on “non-commercial flights on employer-provided aircraft” which includes personal flights taken on ministry aircraft.

The latest tax update was announced in the April 10, 2023 edition of the Internal Revenue Bulletin and covers personal flights taken between January 1, 2023 and June 30, 2023.

The tax is comprised of a terminal charge of $52.35 along with an additional tax based on miles of the trip known as Standard Industry Fare Level (SIFL).

SIFL Mileage Rates for the first six months of 2023:

Up to 500 miles = $0.2864 per mile
501-1500 miles = $0.2183 per mile
Over 1500 miles = $0.2099 per mile

Only a handful of televangelists disclose their use of private jets on the IRS Form 990, a financial disclosure document which reveals total revenue, total expenses, and compensation of executives. However, most TV preachers claim a church exemption from this disclosure.  This fringe benefit would need to be reported on the televangelist’s personal income tax form 1040 each year.

Schedule J includes a box to checkmark for the use of first-class or charter travel.

Long-Distance Ministry: Pastors Buy Second Homes and Start Churches Hundreds of Miles from Their Base

(Photo: In the 1970s, televangelist pioneer Oral Roberts acquired mansions in Beverly Hills and Palm Springs, CA, leading his Tulsa, OK-based ministry from afar.)

Oct. 31 was the day Martin Luther posted the 95 theses on the Wittenberg Church door—October 31, 1517—which began the reformation, also called by some the 2nd wave of Christianity. He critiqued expensive church real estate along with many other practices of the Catholic Church and the Papacy.  Today, Luther’s anger would probably be directed at the aberrant activities of the megachurches.  The reformation is over 500 years old and we still struggle with some of the same problems.

To expand their reach and receive larger donations, televangelists and megachurch pastors are planting churches hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles, from their base of operations. Some pastors appear to be motivated by pursuit of wealth, planting churches in wealthy communities. Others are drawn by the allure of Hollywood, taking up residence in Beverly Hills.

The investment in long distance ministry frequently produces extravagant housing expenses and over-the-top travel costs. Why fly first class when your donors will finance a jet?

The late televangelist Fred Price illustrates the trend of long distance ministry by planting a church in New York City while his home was located over 2100 miles away in California.

In 2007, Business Jet Traveler asked Price, pastor of Crenshaw Christian Center, “How much do you fly for the church?” Price responded, “A couple of years back, when we were first establishing the church in New York, my wife and I flew every single week-52 weeks-Los Angeles to New York and return. Now the least we’d go is once a month and recently we’ve had to go twice a month.”

Joseph Prince, the Singapore-based televangelist, has launched two churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and acquired a large plot of land in Colleyville, TX for future expansion. If there is one city in the world that doesn’t need another televangelist, it is Colleyville, the home of Robert Morris, pastor of Gateway Church, James Robison, head of LIFE Outreach International, Matthew Crouch, head of Trinity Broadcasting Network, and Joni Lamb, head of Daystar Television.

Church members and donors to the churches and ministries cited in this article should ponder critical questions. Can a pastor effectively lead his congregation from afar? Are million-dollar mansions good stewardship?

Continue reading “Long-Distance Ministry: Pastors Buy Second Homes and Start Churches Hundreds of Miles from Their Base”

Nepotism: Ministry Family Members Compensated Over $3 Million

Most evangelical Christians have never heard of “prophet” Chuck Pierce and his “family business” Glory of Zion International. Pierce is a widely respected individual among charismatic and Pentecostal Christians who believe that God is raising up a new generation of prophets to guide the church.

This respect is not warranted. Two huge red flags, nepotism and excessive compensation, in Pierce’s ministry should raise important questions for donors.

According to the ministry’s latest Form 990 which recently became public, seven Pierce family members received $3,779,930 in compensation and independent contractor payments from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

(Photo: Spreadsheet of Pierce Family compensation)

In the past four years, Chuck Pierce has been compensated more than $5 million.

By operating as a ministry, Glory of Zion International exploits a loophole in the tax code. Non-profit executives who serve as ministers or paid as independent contractors are not subject to an excise tax on compensation of more than $1 million.

(Photo: Page 5, Line 15 of 2020-21 Form 990)

Who determined how much each of the Pierces are paid? This information is not disclosed to the IRS. It is possible that Chuck Pierce determines his own salary.

(Photo: Schedule J of 2020-21 Form 990)

Normally, when a non-profit organization pays an executive more than $1 million, the organization would rely upon a compensation study to justify a large salary which would then be approved by the board. Three of eight voting board members are from the Pierce family.

Out of the six highest paid employees, four are family.  Nepotism is a widespread problem in megachurches and religious media ministries. Church members and ministry donors should hold religious leaders to higher ethical standards. Nepotism and excessive compensation  in ministries should serve as red flags for donors to avoid.




Checkbooks, Bank Cards and Bank Statements Reveal Pastor Priorities: Pastor James MacDonald and the Ethics of Gift Giving

(Photo: PO Box and bank routing number redacted. Reimbursement check written by James MacDonald’s executive assistant Sharon Kostal.)

Note: This is the first article in a series examining financial records and receipts for pastors and religious organizations. Future articles will explore travel expenses and per diem expenses.

“It has been said, ‘Show me a person’s checkbook and I can tell you what he cares about.'” – Social Action, 1964

James MacDonald, the controversial former pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC), is attempting to restore his reputation.   In July, MacDonald posted on his website copies of checks as proof that he reimbursed (HBC) for personal expenses incurred during his time as pastor. One reimbursement check, dated December 28, 2018, was for $27,172.39!

The checks challenged a claim that MacDonald failed to reimburse the church.

MacDonald also provided monthly lists of church financial transactions revealing the cost of airline tickets, charter aircraft service and gifts to pastors.

Concerned church donors and religion reporters rarely have access to this kind of financial information.

Monthly statements disclosed that HBC and MacDonald’s media ministry Walk in the Word shared the cost of purchasing more than $1,000 of cufflinks for church employees. Other transactions included the purchase of more than $1,500 in gifts from Bloomingdales for a Greg Laurie marriage conference and $10,683.09 spent on taxidermy in the first half of 2016.

Continue reading “Checkbooks, Bank Cards and Bank Statements Reveal Pastor Priorities: Pastor James MacDonald and the Ethics of Gift Giving”