Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Should Churches be Taxed?

  1. Yes

    13 vote(s)
    56.5%
  2. No

    8 vote(s)
    34.8%
  3. Uncertain

    2 vote(s)
    8.7%
  1. Mar 27, 2005 #1
    To my knowledge, churches are not taxed in America or Canada - correct me if I'm wrong since I couldn't find much information on the net. Do you believe churches should be taxed?

    My answer is a resounding yes, and I believe that churches being exempt from taxation - while other people are taxed - is abhorrent.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2005 #2

    dextercioby

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Yes,they should be taxed.Every income should be taxed.

    Daniel.
     
  4. Mar 27, 2005 #3
    I don't think that churches should be taxed because they give back way too much for society (i know lots of people will disagree). They represent a part of society that is underestimated in these modern days. Religion, especially in western societies, is quasi totally neglected but the revival is eminent...

    marlon
     
  5. Mar 27, 2005 #4

    dextercioby

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    They are humans.Like in "homo sapiens sapiens".Since these homo sapiens sapiens had the unfortunate idea of inventing what we call STATE,everything has changed.

    I propose that nobody should pay any taxes (like in Monaco),because each & everyone gives back to society.Way too much.

    Daniel.
     
  6. Mar 27, 2005 #5

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Actually, its profits that are taxed (you are taxed on your profit, not your gross income). Since churches are non-profit, on what would you tax them?
     
  7. Mar 27, 2005 #6

    brewnog

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Same rules should apply to the church as to any other charity. As far as I know, they do.
     
  8. Mar 27, 2005 #7

    dextercioby

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    What is the income of a church,meaning from what do they make money?

    Daniel.
     
  9. Mar 27, 2005 #8

    brewnog

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    As far as I know, the Church is the biggest landowner in the UK (if not, it's definitely in the top three). They must make a load of money out of renting out their land to sheep.

    Obviously there's a bit of charity thrown in there too, for good measure. Plenty of people leave their inheritance to the Church. Weddings and funerals are also a money spinner, and local government often donates in order to maintain property and estates. Finally, the Church has some pretty large investments with similarly large dividends.
     
  10. Mar 27, 2005 #9

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I think we may get different responses here depending on what country you live in and tax laws in those countries.

    In the U.S., not-for-profit organizations are tax-exempt, and churches are usually non-profit. They don't receive special status because they are religious organizations, and that's the way it should be in the U.S.
     
  11. Mar 27, 2005 #10

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I would just be repeating what Russ and Moonbear have stated.

    The members of the church pay taxes on their incomes. If a church is 'profitable', it would have to pay taxes. Most churches 'donate' excess money to charities and perform other social services, in some cases where governments refuse to provide such services.

    Churches (religions) in US have a different status than those in Europe, an artifact of history, where the European churches were linked to the royalty or government.

    The US government does not support or subsidize any church, however the Bush administration is close to stepping over the line with Bush's faith-based initiatives.

    I would have prefered a "It depends" choice in the poll. Where a church is a property owner and derives 'income' from the property, then it should pay taxes like any other business. On the other hand, the church could provide charity in lieu of taxes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2005
  12. Mar 27, 2005 #11

    dextercioby

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Non profit i undestand,yet how do they earn they money?I hope they're not falling outta the sky...:rolleyes:

    Daniel.
     
  13. Mar 27, 2005 #12

    brewnog

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Defo! Same here anyway. Setting aside the fact that religious institutions are at large wasps nest of dogma, they also often do some pretty good charity work.
     
  14. Mar 27, 2005 #13

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    My feelings are mixed. Yes, there are charities, but the major churches, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, etc... take in billions in income. I believe the Catholic church is still queen of the pigs in income, but the Baptists are next (at least in the US). If they were taxed, just think of what those extra tax dollars could do for the populace.

    It just angers me when I see things like the new Catholic church facility near where I live that cost millions of dollars. This wasn't necessary. They could have built a facility of the same size for a fraction of the cost. (I was raised Catholic, btw).

    I'm not talking about the pastors and priests, the people at the bottom, they get very little money, I'm talking about the organization itself.

    With the exception of all those scam artist self-proclaimed evangelists, those people are just shameless.
     
  15. Mar 27, 2005 #14

    GENIERE

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

  16. Mar 27, 2005 #15

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    They get the money they use the same way other non-profits get their funds. Donations and charity fund-raising. Small donations come in from the members when they pass the collection basket around during services, and the usual bake-sale type of events. More donations come in when they perform marriages, baptisms, funerals, etc. Most churches have a meeting hall they rent for events (in the church I attended as a kid, this was a multi-function room that served as the cafeteria, auditorium and gym for the attached school, the bingo hall...yeah, bingo brings in a lot of money...it was attached to the church in such a way that partitions could be opened and it provided another annex to the church to hold the congregation for larger masses, and when it wasn't being used for anything else, could be rented for receptions), and there are people who include in their will a donation of a portion (or all) of their estate to the church when they die.
     
  17. Mar 27, 2005 #16

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    This is why I think they shouldn't receive special status. The IRS should be taking a close look at their tax forms (they still have to file, even if they are non-profit, just to document that status), and don't assume that just because they have "Church" in their name that they are really non-profit.

    I had the same feeling returning to the church I was raised in for my nephew's baptism. I hadn't been there since I was a teenager, and it disgusted me what they had done. They had completely remodeled it into a more modern interior, including ugly, blue windows :confused: instead of the stained glass it used to have (it had beautiful stained glass windows, why would you replace those?) There were now marble entryways and a fountain in the entrance (at first I thought it might be the baptismal font, but it wasn't...this monstrosity that looked like a jucuzzi is now the baptismal font...my mom got mad that I kept joking that the priests probably used it as a hot tub when nobody was around). I don't know why people would donate to the church when they are clearly using the money for interior decorating instead of for charity. It clearly hasn't helped them maintain a congregation.

    [off-topic rant] That was the most striking difference. The last mass on Sunday (the one attended by all the lazy folks who didn't get up early for church) was always packed full; if you didn't arrive early (just as the previous mass was letting out), you'd wind up sitting in the annex rather than the main church, and if you arrived a few minutes late, it would be standing room only. Now, the church was mostly empty for mass, and the selfishness among the congregants was astounding! When I was a kid, if you sat down and someone else needed a seat, everyone scooted further into the pew to give that person a seat, even if it meant being rather "cozy" with those sitting next to you. Here, we had a half-empty church, and my sister was standing there with a baby carrier, and nobody would even move their feet so she could get around them into an empty seat in the middle, let alone actually scoot inward so she could sit near the end where she could get out if the baby fussed. During the peace offering, nobody turned to anyone other than their own family they were sitting with. This was also quite different from how I was raised, where you shook hands and offered peace with anyone you could reach on all sides of you. I quite appalled by this difference. I had seen these differences in other churches, and assumed it was different attitudes in different churches, but to return to my "home" parish and see the same thing tells me it is endemic to the Catholic church as a whole. Things were bad when I left the church, and they've only gotten worse.[/off-topic rant]
     
  18. Mar 27, 2005 #17

    dextercioby

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper


    That's plain outrageous and such behavior should be strictly monitored and the taxed should be collected like in any other domain.

    To me,what u've described is called BEGGARY... :mad:

    Beggars should pay taxes,too.

    Daniel.
     
  19. Mar 27, 2005 #18
    I think you are seriously misunderstanding the difference between a profit driven organization and a nonprofit organization.

    Here are a few key differences:

    1.
    Goals

    Business
    Get maximum profit with available investment and sales; owners get profits.
    Non-Profit
    Deliver maximum service with available donations and sales; any surplus must be used solely for the non-profit agency's authorized mission.


    2.
    Personnel/Staffing

    Business
    100% paid staff and contractors.
    Non-Profit
    Significant share of work in non-profits is done by volunteers who receive little or no financial compensation and may not be shown on the financial statements. Volunteers expect/demand more participation in decision-making, are more likely to quit if not appreciated properly.


    3.
    Taxation

    Business
    Pays FICA, Workmen's compensation, state unemployment insurance (SUI), and withholding taxes for all employees; pays property taxes and sales taxes on purchases not resold; pays federal income taxes if it's a "regular" corporation, but not if it's a partnership, "subchapter S" corporation, or proprietorship; may also pay state income taxes.
    Non-Profit
    Same as partnership or "subchapter S" corporation, except may have state exemption from state or local property, sales, or income tax. Tax exempt status for non-profit organizations does not mean they pay no taxes; it means only that they are exempt from Federal income taxes.


    I found these three from here.

    If you still feel the way you do about taxing nonprofit organizations then what about charities? Are they nonprofit?

    Regards
     
  20. Mar 27, 2005 #19

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    As a comment about all of this and role of churches in general:

    I did a quick search and took a random example: Here are 25 of 133 four star charities sponsored by the Catholic Church - which I believe gives more through charity and services than any other single institution on earth. What a bunch of pigs eh?

    AID TO THE CHURCH IN RUSSIA
    Raising funds to assist the Catholic Church in Russia

    Religion- Religious Activities
    Great Falls, VA 22066 - South Add to My Charities Compare


    2 APOSTOLATE FOR FAMILY CONSECRATION
    Nourishing families through the Catholic faith

    Religion- Religious Media and Broadcasting
    Bloomingdale, OH 43910 - Midwest Add to My Charities Compare


    3 ASSOCIATED CATHOLIC CHARITIES, ARCHDIOCESE OF BALTIMORE
    Cherishing the divine within

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Baltimore, MD 21201 - Mid-Atlantic Add to My Charities Compare



    4 ATLANTA UNION MISSION
    Largest homeless services provider in the Southeast

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Atlanta, GA 30301 - South Add to My Charities Compare



    5 BIG SHOULDERS FUND
    It takes Big Shoulders to carry a child's dreams

    Education- Other Education Programs and Services
    Chicago, IL 60606 - Midwest Add to My Charities Compare



    6 BISHOP GASSIS SUDAN RELIEF FUND
    Bringing help and hope to persecuted people

    International- Single Country Support Organizations
    Manassas, VA 20108 - South Add to My Charities Compare



    7 BOSTON COLLEGE
    A Jesuit, Catholic university committed to academic excellence

    Education- Universities, Graduate Schools, and Technological
    Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 - Northeast Add to My Charities Compare



    8 BOSTON RESCUE MISSION
    Transforming lives since 1899

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Boston, MA 02112 - Northeast Add to My Charities Compare



    9 BREAKTHROUGH URBAN MINISTRIES
    Transforming people and communities from the inside out

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Chicago, IL 60640 - Midwest Add to My Charities Compare



    10 CALL TO ACTION
    Catholics working together to foster peace and justice

    Religion- Religious Activities
    Chicago, IL 60618 - Midwest Add to My Charities Compare



    11 CATHOLIC CHARITIES HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
    Continuing the mission of Jesus by responding to those in need

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Cleveland, OH 44102 - Midwest Add to My Charities Compare



    12 CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF BUFFALO
    Hope for all seasons

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Buffalo, NY 14203 - Northeast Add to My Charities Compare



    13 CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF FAIRFIELD COUNTY
    Providing social services to the most vulnerable in our society

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Bridgeport, CT 06606 - Northeast Add to My Charities Compare



    14 CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF LOS ANGELES
    Committed to enhancing the social mission of the Church

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Los Angeles, CA 90015 - Pacific West Add to My Charities Compare



    15 CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF SANTA CLARA COUNTY
    Serving people of all beliefs

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    San Jose, CA 95134 - Pacific West Add to My Charities Compare



    16 CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF ST. PAUL & MINNEAPOLIS
    Strengthening families, reducing poverty and building communities

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Minneapolis, MN 55403 - Midwest Add to My Charities Compare



    17 CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF THE EAST BAY
    Helping people in need overcome poverty, building compassionate communities, and advocating for justice

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Oakland, CA 94607 - Pacific West Add to My Charities Compare



    18 CATHOLIC CHARITIES, ARCHDIOCESE OF DENVER
    Providing help, creating hope

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Denver, CO 80219 - Mountain West Add to My Charities Compare



    19 CATHOLIC CHARITIES, ARCHDIOCESE OF MILWAUKEE
    Inspired by Christ's call to serve

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Milwaukee, WI 53207 - Midwest Add to My Charities Compare



    20 CATHOLIC CHARITIES, ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS
    Multi-program social service agency of the Archdiocese of New Orleans

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    New Orleans, LA 70113 - South Add to My Charities Compare



    21 CATHOLIC CHARITIES, ARCHDIOCESE OF OKLAHOMA CITY
    In all things charity

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Oklahoma City, OK 73106 - Southwest Add to My Charities Compare



    22 CATHOLIC CHARITIES, ARCHDIOCESE OF SAN FRANCISCO
    Serving people of all faiths since 1907

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    San Francisco, CA 94117 - Pacific West Add to My Charities Compare



    23 CATHOLIC CHARITIES, ARCHDIOCESE OF WASHINGTON
    Faith. Works. Wonders.

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Washington, DC 20001 - Mid-Atlantic Add to My Charities Compare



    24 CATHOLIC CHARITIES, DIOCESE OF ALBANY
    Providing help and creating hope since 1917

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Albany, NY 12203 - Northeast Add to My Charities Compare

    25 CATHOLIC CHARITIES, DIOCESE OF GALVESTON-HOUSTON
    Providing help. Creating hope.

    Human Services- Catholic Charities, Rescue Missions
    Houston, TX 77266 - Southwest Add to My Charities Compare

    Displaying records 1 through 25 of 133

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/ind...&keyword_list=Catholic&Submit.x=12&Submit.y=0
     
  21. Mar 27, 2005 #20

    dextercioby

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Yes,i feel the same about charity,too,church involved,or not.If people donate money in private,then it's okay,the state cannot do anything about it.But if someone gives away money in public & makes a big fuss about it,then that money need to be taxed...I still believe in MONEY THROUGH LABOR...If we tax gambling and prostitution,why not tax the church?

    Daniel.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?