Should the church be taxed?

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In my opinion, the church shouldn't be subject to any tax exemptions at all. It should be taxed, and the taxes should be reinvested on noble causes, such as health care, education, scientific and technological development, resource and environmental protection, housing security and food security, etc.
 

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  • #2
Astronuc
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In my opinion, the church shouldn't be subject to any tax exemptions at all. It should be taxed, and the taxes should be reinvested on noble causes, such as health care, education, scientific and technological development, resource and environmental protection, housing security and food security, etc.
Should all non-profit and/or charitable organizations be taxed?

Churches have traditional provided social services. Their funding comes from the membership, although some churches do own commercial property that generates revenue.
 
  • #3
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Should all non-profit and/or charitable organizations be taxed?

Churches have traditional provided social services. Their funding comes from the membership, although some churches do own commercial property that generates revenue.
"Should all non-profit and/or charitable organizations be taxed?"

Depends on their utility/revenue values, although there should be a maximum tax rate beyond which non-profit organizations can't be taxed (ex: 30%). Only a part of the churches' revenues goes to charitable causes. The rest goes on socially useless causes, such as religious missionary programs, religious activism, church property accumulation, etc.

The degree of social usefulness can be determined by having an expert council vote on it.
 
  • #4
Ryan_m_b
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Should all non-profit and/or charitable organizations be taxed?
Non-profit yes (to some extent) and I agree that religious institutions should not be taxed on their charitable programs but I don't see why tax exemption should apply across the board when ultimately they are not charities and qualifying for religious tax exemption is largely arbitrary e.g. Scientology not being classed as a tax exempt religion in many countries.
 
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  • #5
DavidSnider
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The degree of social usefulness can be determined by having an expert council vote on it.
Why an expert council? When it comes to charity why not just let people vote with their wallets? I certainly would much rather give to specific charities than let the government be the sole decider on what is a socially worthy cause.
 
  • #6
Ryan_m_b
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Why an expert council? When it comes to charity why not just let people vote with their wallets? I certainly would much rather give to specific charities than let the government be the sole decider on what is a socially worthy cause.
How do you vote with your wallet for what is a charity? Charitable status in [strike]the UK[/strike] England and Wales at least is awarded by the charity commission which is an arm of the government. Therefore the government is responsible for deciding on what constitutes a charity but ultimately they are accountable to the people.

That's not to say I agree with Cinitiator that there should be an expert council that has to vote on each charity but that there has to be an agreed upon set of requirements for an organisation to register as a charity with a good amount of accountability all the way through.
 
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  • #7
turbo
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Should all non-profit and/or charitable organizations be taxed?

Churches have traditional provided social services. Their funding comes from the membership, although some churches do own commercial property that generates revenue.
The Roman Catholic Church owns about 1/2 of the property in the largest city in this area. They generate lots of income, but pay no taxes, so the burden of providing security, fire protection and other services falls on others. Not fair, and the situation (IMO) is hampering economic growth, since some pretty profitable business have been established and expanded over the years to surrounding towns with fairer tax burdens.

I am a spiritual person but non-denominational. I was raised in the Catholic church, until I was old enough to rebel and kick the traces. Even back 50 years ago, it was quite obvious that the church was a highly profitable global business. I'd like to see all organizations pay taxes on their profits. If they do charitable work, we can exempt those expenditures from taxation.

Incorporating as a "church" should not absolve one from taxation - just look at the explosion of mega-churches in the last couple of decades. Lots of money coming in tax-free, to the detriment of all taxpayers.
 
  • #8
DavidSnider
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Basic oversight doesn't seem to be the intent of the OP. He's saying he finds things like 'missionary programs' as socially useless and that the funds should be siphoned off to the government for things he does find valuable.
 
  • #9
Ryan_m_b
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Basic oversight doesn't seem to be the intent of the OP. He's saying he finds things like 'missionary programs' as socially useless and that the funds should be siphoned off to the government for things he does find valuable.
The ministry of service that missionaries partake in is often charitable and so should be tax exempt however they also come with an evangelical side which should not be. How one could work out what goes on what and what's fair I'm not sure but I don't think that efforts to gain converts for a religion should count as a service to society or charitable action in a secular nation.
 
  • #10
turbo
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When I was a little kid (maybe 10), my great-aunt told me some pretty heady stuff about the RCC. I had mentioned that our church had hosted some African missionaries and collected money for that cause. Aunt Dora said that the church sent the missionaries begging to us because we Mainers were only marginally better-off than Africans. She saw my incomprehension, and explained that when the church wanted money from the Hartford area, they sent in speakers that claimed that churches in Maine needed furnace repairs and new roofs. A very sharp old lady.
 
  • #11
DavidSnider
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Maybe things are different in the UK, but in the US 'spreading the gospel' is seen as a worthy social cause in itself. That's why I'd rather not have politicians playing favorites with charities.
 
  • #12
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Maybe things are different in the UK, but in the US 'spreading the gospel' is seen as a worthy social cause in itself. That's why I'd rather not have politicians playing favorites with charities.
Should spreading astrology, 2012 millenarianism, Nibiru cataclysm, and other irrational and harmful beliefs be considered as worthy as well? Spreading anything which asses itself to be a fact without being a tautology or an empirical theory etc. is harmful, and shouldn't be considered worthy.
 
  • #13
DavidSnider
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What makes you think the government is any better at weeding out harmful and irrational beliefs than a church?

The US government buys dowsing rods to detect bombs. Seriously.
 
  • #14
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There is a case for taxing the profit that churches make on business ventures. However, the money that is given voluntarily to churches is not taxed because of the first amendment. I think this is better left as it is.
 
  • #15
Ryan_m_b
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Maybe things are different in the UK, but in the US 'spreading the gospel' is seen as a worthy social cause in itself. That's why I'd rather not have politicians playing favorites with charities.
Seen as a worthy social cause by whom; the people, the government or both? How would you award tax exempt status without governments being involved?
 
  • #16
In my opinion, the church shouldn't be subject to any tax exemptions at all. It should be taxed, and the taxes should be reinvested on noble causes, such as health care, education, scientific and technological development, resource and environmental protection, housing security and food security, etc.
No, but I also don't think tithing should be tax deductible. The government should pretend as though religion does not exist.
 
  • #17
DavidSnider
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Seen as a worthy social cause by whom; the people, the government or both? How would you award tax exempt status without governments being involved?
Both the people and the government. (The government being made up by the people...)

Again, I'm not talking about simply granting tax exempt status.

The government has more than enough channels to raise revenues already. Why complicate charities which are one of the most effective forms of direct democracy?
 
  • #18
Mentalist
No, I do not think churches should be taxed.
 
  • #19
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My problem is that churches don't have to abide by the same filing requirements that other charities do.

From http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Churches-&-Religious-Organizations/Filing-Requirements
Filing Requirements (bolding mine)
Generally, tax-exempt organizations must file an annual information return ( Form 990 or Form 990-EZ). Tax-exempt organizations that have annual gross receipts not normally in excess of $25,000 ($50,000 for tax years ending on or after December 31, 2010) are not required to file the annual information return; they may be required to file an annual electronic notice, however. In addition, churches and certain church-affiliated organizations are excepted from filing.
So, where other non-profit organizations have to file taxes to prove they meet the requirements of being a non-profit, churches are exempt. Additionally, church ministers don't have to pay taxes on their incomes unlike any other non-profit organization.

To me, this shows undue favoritism to religious organizations over non-religious organizations.

Treat churches just like any other non-profit organization.
 
  • #20
Ryan_m_b
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Both the people and the government. (The government being made up by the people...)

Again, I'm not talking about simply granting tax exempt status.

The government has more than enough channels to raise revenues already. Why complicate charities which are one of the most effective forms of direct democracy?
I don't see that this has much to do with direct democracy since it's not a community voting on where community funds go but an individual deciding where an individual's funds can go within boundaries set by the community.

Personally I don't think that evangelism is deserved of tax exempt status, any charitable work a church does then fine make it tax deductible but not across the board exempt just because your organisation partakes in some charitable activity.
 
  • #21
Ryan_m_b
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Some information on the governance of this in England and Wales for those interested:

This link outlines what tax exemption charities recieve.
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/charities/guidance-notes/annex1/annex_i.htm

This link contains information on what aims an organisation must meet in order to be legally allowed to register as a charity.
http://www.charity-commission.gov.u...tials/Public_benefit/charitable_purposes.aspx

This link explains under what circumstances the advancement of religion can and cannot be considered a public benefit
http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/Library/guidance/pbreligiontext.pdf

IMO the system now could be better as I don't believe that advancing a religion should count as a charitable aim at all however I acknowledge it's problematic because for an organisation to be counted as a charity it cannot have any aims that are not included in the list from the second link above. Perhaps an answer could be for religious organisations to set up, fund and run secular charities but that's a tenuous separation with room for abuse.
 
  • #22
DavidSnider
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However, the money that is given voluntarily to churches is not taxed because of the first amendment. I think this is better left as it is.
This is a good point. Taxing churches effectively gives government control over religious expression.
 
  • #23
Ryan_m_b
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This is a good point. Taxing churches effectively gives government control over religious expression.
How exactly? IIRC under a certain amount transfer of money between private individuals for no return of goods or services constitutes a gift and is not taxable. It's not like you couldn't give money tax free to a religious institution if they were taxed.
 
  • #24
turbo
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This is a good point. Taxing churches effectively gives government control over religious expression.
IMO, taxing churches puts the churches on the same footing as other profitable enterprises. Nothing wrong with that. If all religious organizations were taxed at the same rates as other corporations, it would give government no influence over religious expression.
 
  • #25
DavidSnider
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How exactly? IIRC under a certain amount transfer of money between private individuals for no return of goods or services constitutes a gift and is not taxable. It's not like you couldn't give money tax free to a religious institution if they were taxed.
Yes, but by having the government set the tax rate for a particular religious institution it would lead to a situation where the government is favoring one religion over another.
 

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