Time to reconsider religious tax exemptions

Nov 30, 2012 | Posted by: Hedonist | Full story: www.gosanangelo.com

Removing the tax exemptions for religious institutions on property donations, business enterprises, capital gains on investments and sales and "parsonage allowances," the Treasury could raise as much as $71 billion a year.

Right now there are two complaints percolating through the IRS that challenge the ability of churches to take political stands and maintain their tax-exempt status.

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“I Am No One Else”

Since: Apr 12

Seattle

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#2
Nov 30, 2012
 
Screw it, the churches operate like corporations, treat them like corporations.

“you must not give faith”

Since: Jul 12

Nottingham, UK

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#3
Dec 1, 2012
 
As an atheist I don't think removing the tax exemptions in all cases is a good idea. Yes tax the mega-churches they act like corporations so let's treat them like corporations. Yes tax the churches that make explicit political statements if we don't the US will be subsidising political activity. However if we tax all churches it can be seen as a violation of the first Amendment as we are making it harder for churches to survive, I say can be seen because it can also be seen that not taxing all churches violates the first Amendment B cars were making it easier for churches to survive. This may not be as simple as we once thought...

“you must not give faith”

Since: Jul 12

Nottingham, UK

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#4
Dec 1, 2012
 
B cars? what the hell is my voice recognition software think I'm saying that's meant to say because!

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

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#5
Dec 1, 2012
 
Benjamin Frankly wrote:
As an atheist I don't think removing the tax exemptions in all cases is a good idea. Yes tax the mega-churches they act like corporations so let's treat them like corporations. Yes tax the churches that make explicit political statements if we don't the US will be subsidising political activity. However if we tax all churches it can be seen as a violation of the first Amendment as we are making it harder for churches to survive, I say can be seen because it can also be seen that not taxing all churches violates the first Amendment B cars were making it easier for churches to survive. This may not be as simple as we once thought...
The rule on tax is to tax individuals and businesses. Who qualifies for exception must be decided by the government, which immediately allows for bias to enter the equation.

The only totally level playing field is to tax all businesses as businesses equally.

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not care to support it, so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power,'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one." ~ Ben Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1754
nOgOd

Rockford, IL

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#6
Dec 1, 2012
 

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I am skeptical about taxing churches, etc. They may become an even more powerful force when they start demanding an equal voice at the table because they are being taxed. They will consider themselves the same as corporations who are provided with incentives and other breaks.
Benjamin Frankly wrote:
As an atheist I don't think removing the tax exemptions in all cases is a good idea. Yes tax the mega-churches they act like corporations so let's treat them like corporations. Yes tax the churches that make explicit political statements if we don't the US will be subsidising political activity. However if we tax all churches it can be seen as a violation of the first Amendment as we are making it harder for churches to survive, I say can be seen because it can also be seen that not taxing all churches violates the first Amendment B cars were making it easier for churches to survive. This may not be as simple as we once thought...

Since: Jun 07

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#7
Dec 2, 2012
 

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nOgOd wrote:
I am skeptical about taxing churches, etc. They may become an even more powerful force when they start demanding an equal voice at the table because they are being taxed. They will consider themselves the same as corporations who are provided with incentives and other breaks.
<quoted text>
No, actually, they'll just run out of money, because that's what a healthy dose of reality and economics does to most pyramid schemes.
nOgOd

Rockford, IL

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#8
Dec 4, 2012
 
I agree with you. I am just concerned with the breaks that they already receive. We are still paying for this "faith-based" program here and that "drug rehabilitation" there. We all know where that money is spent. Let them keep the 501(c)(3) bone, but cut all of the other funding they receive. Let them fail like every other business and good riddance. In time their congregations and donations will fall victim to the rise and fall of the economy.
-Skeptic- wrote:
<quoted text>
No, actually, they'll just run out of money, because that's what a healthy dose of reality and economics does to most pyramid schemes.
Amused

Worcester, MA

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#9
Dec 5, 2012
 

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nOgOd wrote:
I am skeptical about taxing churches, etc. They may become an even more powerful force when they start demanding an equal voice at the table because they are being taxed. They will consider themselves the same as corporations who are provided with incentives and other breaks.
<quoted text>
If churches are taxed, they will have the same rights to political speech as other corporations. What we need more than the revenue that taxing churches might provide is a shoring up of the wall between church and state by having the IRS actually enforce the rules against political partisanship by tax exempt organizations. Taxing churches and having to allow them to engage in political endorsement etc. would be a big step toward a theocracy. Churches are full of sheeple who will vote however the guy with the backwards collar tells them that the invisible sky fairy wants them to vote.
nOgOd

Rockford, IL

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#10
Dec 5, 2012
 
Perfect!
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
If churches are taxed, they will have the same rights to political speech as other corporations. What we need more than the revenue that taxing churches might provide is a shoring up of the wall between church and state by having the IRS actually enforce the rules against political partisanship by tax exempt organizations. Taxing churches and having to allow them to engage in political endorsement etc. would be a big step toward a theocracy. Churches are full of sheeple who will vote however the guy with the backwards collar tells them that the invisible sky fairy wants them to vote.
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

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#11
Dec 5, 2012
 
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
.... Churches are full of sheeple who will vote however the guy with the backwards collar tells them that the invisible sky fairy wants them to vote.
I wonder if 'sheeple'(collectively speeking) in the UK are differ from those in the US? I suspect not.

I think few people who attend religious congregations would vote as their cleric suggests. For instance, when Cardinal O'Brien (Scotland) had a letter read-out to all RC congregations stating that gay marriage was 'grotesque'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-1938357...
and trying to influence the congregation towards hostility to politicians that didn't support marriage for heterosexual couples only. Some of the congregation at at least one chapel left 'in a dignified manner' in protest and the RC Church's stance doesn't seem to be supported by the ~(few) Christian religionists that I know.

I think people greatly over-estimate the influence of clerics in the UK. I don't know if it is much different in the USA?

As far as the UK is concerned, I would tend to agree with Skeptic that Churches probably should lose their charity status for everything that is not directly connected to charity work. Humanist, rationalist and ethical societies get some tax relief, but they use community buildings (in the UK) and don't own property, so there is probably little tax-saving compared with Church congregations here.
Amused

Princeton, MA

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#12
Dec 5, 2012
 

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EdSed wrote:
<quoted text>I wonder if 'sheeple'(collectively speeking) in the UK are differ from those in the US? I suspect not.
...
I suspect that they are different. It is no coincidence that the republican conservative strongholds in the US map out quite the same as the map of the so-called bible belt. Evangelicals tend to also be conservatives.

In fact, the republican party is a "strange bedfellows" alliance between wealthy businessmen, who are mostly interested in tax breaks, gutting regulation of industry and trade issues and social conservatives who advocate a small government that nonetheless is deeply concerned with controlling women's reproductive organs. The wealthy, being few in number, pretend interest in social conservative issues in order to get the votes of social conservatives, who, in turn, vote against their own economic interests in order to advance their theocratic ambitions.

That dynamic already retards progress. Adding in influence from the pulpit would definitely make things worse. Christians in the bible belt are radically different from the mainline protestants who predominate in your neck of the woods. They are mostly fundamentalists who take their religion with the utmost seriousness. As you've no doubt seen on this forum, many of them reject basic science because it conflicts with their book of fables being literally true. I doubt you run across many young earth creationists in the UK, but they are a significant portion of the US population. There's not much difference between wholeheartedly accepting the word of a preacher that evolution is unproven, carbon dating is bad science and denying the fossil record and accepting a preacher's word that voting Democrat is a sin.
Thinking

UK

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#13
Dec 5, 2012
 
Got a vision now of a big US church cross charging itself for "really expensive font water" or somesuch in order to make no US profits whatsoever but instead to enjoy the 12.5% tax rates in Ireland and Singapore...

But I agree with your sentiment.
KittenKoder wrote:
Screw it, the churches operate like corporations, treat them like corporations.

“I Am No One Else”

Since: Apr 12

Seattle

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#14
Dec 6, 2012
 
Thinking wrote:
Got a vision now of a big US church cross charging itself for "really expensive font water" or somesuch in order to make no US profits whatsoever but instead to enjoy the 12.5% tax rates in Ireland and Singapore...
But I agree with your sentiment.
<quoted text>
Actually, some do just what you described.

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