Mormon church targeted in new commercial after tax fraud concerns raised

Mormon church targeted in new commercial after tax fraud concerns are raised
Published: Jul. 12, 2017 at 1:57 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 12, 2017 at 8:16 AM HST
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LAIE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This week, you'll be seeing an edgy new commercial targeting the Mormon church in Hawaii, questioning its business practices.

The 30-second spot is paid for by an equal rights organization called Mormon Tips.

They believe the Mormon church is not properly paying taxes, and condemns its Hawaii Real Estate Division -- Hawaii Reserves, Inc. (HRI) -- for its plan to develop Malaekahana with 875 new homes, a shopping center and a school.

The creators have run similar commercials across the nation since the beginning of the year.

"They've got venture capital firms, real estate galore, and they don't pay taxes. We think that's unfair," said Fred Karger, director of Mormon Tips.

Hawaii's commercial begins airing Thursday and will ask the public to send in anonymous tips of potential tax fraud by the Mormon church so Mormon Tips can file a complaint with the IRS.

Laie resident Dawn Wasson has been speaking out against the church for decades, but says she still a Mormon.

She's featured in the ad, protesting the development of Malaekahana.

"Families have disowned me. Friends have shunned me," she said.

HRI and supporters of the expansion have previously said that housing is much-needed in the area, and Laie families deserve a place where they can live, work and play.

They chose not to comment at this time.

The commercial will run statewide for a week, and the creators hope it will encourage others to come forward.

"You know the church teaches you principles about dishonesty and all that. And when it's in their backyard, I'm saying you made the rules. I'm following the rules," said Wasson.

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