We should focus making Churches Pay Taxes a bigger political issue.
I heard the other day on CNBC that churches get to avoid paying taxes because they were taxed so bad when they came over here from Europe – not for the reason that they are non-profit. Something to this effect… so I thought I would research it and I found this blog at blogcritics.org that is a great read on how some churches could pay taxes and lessen our taxes! I also found a site called taxchurches.com.
I think below is a great argument:
Like all the churches, they don’t pay taxes. Why? Is it because they’re a non-profit organization? I wouldn’t know anything about their finances, but I do know how rich some churches are. The Catholic church, for example, and some of the evangelical churches. It’s a stretch to think of these churches as not-for-profit.
This blog makes an interesting point where it states “I believe that the tax-exempt status of a religious institution should be proportional to its nondenominational charitable activities.”
The blog also goes on to give other great points why churches should be taxed:
For example, a church that spends money on fancy cars for its preacher should be taxed on those expenses. A church that runs a soup kitchen but requires its beneficiaries to pray for their supper should have to pay tax on the portion of its income used to run that soup kitchen. A church that owns its building and uses the facility for both worship services and charitable deeds should be taxed according to a formula, the same way a person can deduct home office expenses from his income taxes. Better financial minds than mine could come up with the formula.
If you agree with me that such a proposal is unlikely to be taken seriously in America, you will also probably recognize that we are a religious country, in the sense that religious institutions are given special privileges withheld from individuals, private landowners, and businesses. I don’t agree with these special privileges. But my view is in the minority. It would probably even be fair to describe it as marginal.
Still, think about it next time you walk (or drive) by the churches in your area. What if they all had to pay property taxes the same way you or your landlord does, the same way the commercial building owners on Main St. do? Then your municipality would have more income and could lower property taxes. Your tax burden (or rent) could be less. Meanwhile the churches, if they had to account for every untaxed dollar they spent, would be better practitioners of what they preach.
I sent this out to my email group before posting it here and here is a response:
I checked the links on the email you sent and particularly like the Mark Twain quote (although it is, of course, out of date—not sure what Germany does now but I bet it’s not this):
In Germany they recognize two sects, Catholic and Protestant. These receive State support; and their schools receive State support. Other sects are taxed to support these sects and schools, and have to run their own churches and schools at their own cost. It is infamous.
Just as infamous as it is with us – where no church property is taxed and so the infidel and the atheist and the man without religion are taxed to make up the deficit in the public income thus caused. — Mark Twain
The biggest Baptist church in West Palm sits on some of the most expensive real estate in town…on the intracoastal, facing Palm Beach. And there’s plenty more churches sitting on prime property–look at St. Patrick’s in NYC!
I’ve never really given their tax-exempt status much thought except in the context of Scientology, which won a court case allowing them to be untaxed. Talk about a business! But you’re right…it certainly would make religions practice what they preached if they had to pay taxes and get a break only to the extent they actually walked charity rather than just talking it. I think you’re on to something here.
Who can I vote for that will make Churches and these non-profit groups pay taxes? If I run a business and pay taxes I want all these Porsche driving preacher owned non-profits, Kabula foundations, and charitable organizations gauged on a scale of a percentage they help causes vs. the percentage used for fancy buildings etc.
We could use this money for better highways, better education programs, more pay for teachers, and advances in medicine. Wow the sky is the limit. I hope this comes to be a major election issue someday because it may reduce our taxes.
I don’t know how the Baptists do their finances, but I know the Catholics spend a lot more money on buildings and trying to get more recruits than they do on doing good in the world. Besides, the money they spent doing good in the world could be written off on their taxes with the plan this blogger speaks about.
Then again, Any politician that campaigned on taxing churches would be fried mincemeat. Especially in this country!
Some of the big giant mega churches are about 80% show and 20% good. These mega-churches should be taxed on the 80%. The kind of church I like is the one room church in Little House that doubled as a school. This is what I consider as a real church.