Should Religious Organizations Benefi...

Should Religious Organizations Benefit from Tax Breaks?

There are 35 comments on the www.americanhumanist.org story from May 18, 2012, titled Should Religious Organizations Benefit from Tax Breaks?. In it, www.americanhumanist.org reports that:

As a kid, I once asked my father why churches didn't have to pay taxes. He responded vaguely, saying that churches were considered beneficial to society in a way that justified their not being taxed. The real problem is the degree to which religious organizations enjoy the largess of the government many levels beyond all other kinds of nonprofit institutions.

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Since: Jun 07

Location hidden

#22 May 31, 2012
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
Be careful what you wish for. To the extent that tax exemption for churches is part of the wall of separation between church and state, the unintended consequence may well be the emergence of churches as political king makers. To the extent that churches are circumspect about involvement in politics because of the fear of losing exempt status, the exemption at least tamps down on church involvement in politics. Imagine the effect of removing the incentive/deterrent effect by eliminating the tax exemption. Then, you would have preachers telling their congregations, "god wants you to vote for _____" and having a second collection to support the most god-drunk tea partiers.
Legislate against that too. Ban the wilfully ignorant liars from civil society.

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#23 May 31, 2012
Does anybody know how to find out how much property is tax exempt under the umbrella of religion?

I can't find a data source (reliable or otherwise).
redneck

Azalea, OR

#24 May 31, 2012
Hedonist wrote:
Does anybody know how to find out how much property is tax exempt under the umbrella of religion?
I can't find a data source (reliable or otherwise).
Start by looking at your own county tax office. It blew me away to find out about people with cattle ranches and saw mills that belonged to churches. My taxes are high because they pay nothing. I am in the progress of complaining.

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#25 May 31, 2012
redneck wrote:
<quoted text>Start by looking at your own county tax office. It blew me away to find out about people with cattle ranches and saw mills that belonged to churches. My taxes are high because they pay nothing. I am in the progress of complaining.
That's exactly what I'm talking about. But a county by county analysis is daunting to say the least.

This question came to my attention last week at a sustainability conference where I was speaking. The lady before me was talking about "faith-based sustainability" (whatever that really means) and mentioned that faith-based organizations in Georgia held more property that schools and hospitals combined. That's a lot of acreage!!!

There should be some kind of state by state analysis of the size of this beast.

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#26 May 31, 2012
** type -- "that" should be "than"

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#27 May 31, 2012
Here's an interesting article on the subject from The Economist --

" http://www.economist.com/node/18010759" ;

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#28 May 31, 2012
And I've found an interesting study from Oregon that states--

"In 1998 the Audits Division of the State of Oregon Department of Revenue conducted an audit of property tax exemptions. It determined that among religious organizations claiming tax exempt status under ORS 307.140, the sum of $2,010,492,000.00 was lost in tax year 1995-1996 [23]. This figure represents only revenues lost from property taxes, and does not include other lost forms of revenues connected to employment, businesses, museums and other sources of income for religious organizations."

That's over $2 BILLION dollars in Oregon property taxes alone.

(" http://ovo127.com/2010/08/20/trevor-blake-cas... ;)
redneck

Azalea, OR

#29 May 31, 2012
Hedonist wrote:
And I've found an interesting study from Oregon that states--
"In 1998 the Audits Division of the State of Oregon Department of Revenue conducted an audit of property tax exemptions. It determined that among religious organizations claiming tax exempt status under ORS 307.140, the sum of $2,010,492,000.00 was lost in tax year 1995-1996 [23]. This figure represents only revenues lost from property taxes, and does not include other lost forms of revenues connected to employment, businesses, museums and other sources of income for religious organizations."
That's over $2 BILLION dollars in Oregon property taxes alone.
(" http://ovo127.com/2010/08/20/trevor-blake-cas... ;)
Your just trying to cheer me up.

“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

Knoxville, TN

#30 May 31, 2012
redneck wrote:
<quoted text>Start by looking at your own county tax office. It blew me away to find out about people with cattle ranches and saw mills that belonged to churches. My taxes are high because they pay nothing. I am in the progress of complaining.
I don't know how Oregon does it, but not all church-owned property in Tennessee is exempt--cattle ranches and saw mills, for example, would not be exempt, nor would a rectory's property in excess of 3 acres.
redneck

Azalea, OR

#31 Jun 1, 2012
NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>
I don't know how Oregon does it, but not all church-owned property in Tennessee is exempt--cattle ranches and saw mills, for example, would not be exempt, nor would a rectory's property in excess of 3 acres.
Oregon lets churches clain everything. Tha's why the 'Rajneesh' group was here and the largest Buddist temple in America. My closest town has 2000 people.Mostly unemployed and drug ridden. There are 9 chuches in a 3 mile radius. 13 chuches in a 10 mile radius. One church has 400 acres of timber and cattle with a sawmill and 5 homes.

“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

Knoxville, TN

#32 Jun 1, 2012
Here's what Oregon's page on it says:

Religious organizations [Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 307.140]

To qualify for the property tax exemption, the religious organization must have a constitution, bylaws, or charter which states its mission and purpose. An individual cannot qualify.

Property may include:
• Houses of public worship.
• Buildings used for administrative, educational, literary,
benevolent, charitable, entertainment, and recreational
purposes.
• Personal property.
• Pews and furniture used in the exempt buildings.

Any portion of a property that is not used by the religious organization for its religious purposes will not be exempt.

http://www.oregon.gov/dor/PTD/doc/310-664.pdf

I suppose further exemptions could be granted by individual counties, but those are the only ones mandated by state law. I don't see how ranches, sawmills, or any other investment property would qualify would qualify. Are you sure about this? What are your sources?

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#33 Jun 1, 2012
NightSerf wrote:
Here's what Oregon's page on it says:
Religious organizations [Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 307.140]
To qualify for the property tax exemption, the religious organization must have a constitution, bylaws, or charter which states its mission and purpose. An individual cannot qualify.
Property may include:
• Houses of public worship.
• Buildings used for administrative, educational, literary,
benevolent, charitable, entertainment, and recreational
purposes.
• Personal property.
• Pews and furniture used in the exempt buildings.
Any portion of a property that is not used by the religious organization for its religious purposes will not be exempt.
http://www.oregon.gov/dor/PTD/doc/310-664.pdf
I suppose further exemptions could be granted by individual counties, but those are the only ones mandated by state law. I don't see how ranches, sawmills, or any other investment property would qualify would qualify. Are you sure about this? What are your sources?
You said it yourself -- Property may include entertainment and recreational purposes ... I'd just need to have one religious retreat there for a weekend or 2 each year.
redneck

Azalea, OR

#34 Jun 1, 2012
NightSerf wrote:
Here's what Oregon's page on it says:
Religious organizations [Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 307.140]
To qualify for the property tax exemption, the religious organization must have a constitution, bylaws, or charter which states its mission and purpose. An individual cannot qualify.
Property may include:
• Houses of public worship.
• Buildings used for administrative, educational, literary,
benevolent, charitable, entertainment, and recreational
purposes.
• Personal property.
• Pews and furniture used in the exempt buildings.
Any portion of a property that is not used by the religious organization for its religious purposes will not be exempt.
http://www.oregon.gov/dor/PTD/doc/310-664.pdf
I suppose further exemptions could be granted by individual counties, but those are the only ones mandated by state law. I don't see how ranches, sawmills, or any other investment property would qualify would qualify. Are you sure about this? What are your sources?
One large farm with a commercial wholesale nursery for landscape plants is also an academy and retreat. This is run by 7th day adventists. Students and retreat residents work everything as a builder of morality. Some are punished by working longer. Everthing is for god.

“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

Knoxville, TN

#35 Jun 1, 2012
Hedonist wrote:
<quoted text>
You said it yourself -- Property may include entertainment and recreational purposes ... I'd just need to have one religious retreat there for a weekend or 2 each year.
As I read Oregon law, that would entitle the church in question to a 4% reduction of the property taxes--unless those were the only two weeks that the property was in operation. But if it is being run as a business the rest of the time, it would be taxed as such.

Skepticism applies to everything, not just ideas that we want to disagree with. That's why I went to the trouble of looking up the law and policy rather than just taking redneck's word for it. It means questioning all assumptions including one's own.

The path of a skeptic is stoney and all uphill. But it leads to a vista that encompasses everything.
redneck

Azalea, OR

#36 Jun 2, 2012
NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>
As I read Oregon law, that would entitle the church in question to a 4% reduction of the property taxes--unless those were the only two weeks that the property was in operation. But if it is being run as a business the rest of the time, it would be taxed as such.
Skepticism applies to everything, not just ideas that we want to disagree with. That's why I went to the trouble of looking up the law and policy rather than just taking redneck's word for it. It means questioning all assumptions including one's own.
The path of a skeptic is stoney and all uphill. But it leads to a vista that encompasses everything.
First hand experience with my county commisioners is that they all have strong ties to their churches.If a church claims a cattle ranch brings you closer to god it is accepted. If an atheist complains it strengthens the church position.The churches are powerful here. They shut down bars and strip clubs by buying the prperty or changing ordinances.

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