Should tax exemptions be upheld for religious institutions due to the theoretical and practical good will that they spread?
Should religious institutions have their tax exemptions removed and be forced to contribute back to their governments and the society that they exist in?
My video response below:
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Religious institutions including Christian based churches, synagogues, mosques and other denominations continue to be exempt from paying taxes. Even in tough economic global times religious institutions continue to enjoy this luxurious exemption. Let’s get real, they are profit organisations and it’s about time they were treated as profit organisations and brought to the taxable table!
Below is a general indication of what sorts of funds come into a church and what sort of subsidies the government provides:
- Personal, Corporate, and Foundation Donations.
- Fund Raisers.
- Volunteer Labour.
- Related and Unrelated Business Income.
- Donations are deductable from income taxes.
- No income tax.
- Nil property tax.
- No investment tax.
- No sales tax.
- Direct subsidy (faith based initiatives).
- Related Business Income Tax Subsidy.
- Volunteer Labour Subsidy.
- Parsonage Tax Break Income Exemptions.
If religious institutions require exemption from tax as the only way it can survive, then it’s a religious based on a superficial concept that doesn’t have a message or purpose worth sustaining. Non-believers pay tax which contributes to the survival of religion, therefore religions should contribute back to their government. The tax break forces everyone to support religion even if they oppose all or some religious doctrines. Religions need to stop seeing tax exemption as a right and start seeing it as a privilege.
Secular charities are expected to report their income and financial structure, while religious institutions are not even required to file tax returns. Why should a religious organization have this privilege?
A tax exemption is a form of subsidy. Despite ideas to the contrary, a tax exemption has very much the same effect as cash grants to the organization of the amount of tax it would have to pay on its income. The tax code on religious exemptions does not separate authentic religions and fraudulent start up “faiths” that also benefit at the expense of the tax payer. The church of Scientology which Time Magazine described as a “thriving cult of greed and power and a hugely profitable global racket” was given tax exemption. The satanic group The Church of IV Majesties was also given tax exemption.
Exempting churches from taxes results in billions of dollars in lost revenue, which governments cannot afford to do. US churches own $300-$500 billion in non-taxed property. The city of New York alone loses $627 million in property tax revenue.
Many churches are clearly political even though they are not supposed to be due to their tax exemption and they have not been penalized for it. In 2010, Minnesota pastor Brad Brandon of Berean Baptist church endorsed several Republican candidates and dared the “liberal” media to file complaints with the IRS. Tax payers are supporting the extravagant lifestyles of wealthy pastors who receive significant tax breaks on their personal income and whose mega churches accumulate millions of tax free dollars every year.
Churches claim to be non-profit yet they are. They often spend millions on making their churches more beautiful which is a choice, not a necessity. They do a large amount of for profit business and they utilize all community infrastructure and services. Religious institutions use the same roads, emergency services, police protection and utilities as all other citizens and businesses. Yet they are not contributing to the maintenance of these services like everyone else does.
“The church has set up a system of religion which is very contradictory to the character of the person whose name it bears. It has set up a religion of pomp and revenue, in pretended imitation of a person whose life was humility and poverty” –Thomas Paine
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