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Post Reply Should churches remain tax exempt?
mxdan 
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Posted 1/25/17 , edited 1/25/17

Bailey86 wrote:

its not that im actually for or against the idea of taxes all churches in general. we all know the vatican is extremely wealthy (probably beyond our wildest imagination)

i think christian churches that demand a tithe of weekly income of its regulars would do just fine.

im not sure how muslim or jewish churches get money - ive never looked into it.

i would also expect a massive backlash from the church! i think that there would be a lot of community programs that are run by various churches that even if they could still afford it would shut down just to spite everyone.

do your ministers seriously only have to give services a couple times a week?

Here most of them do 3 - 4 masses per day during the week and even more on the weekends. its a much more full time job.

it would be great if you could tax either group, church or charity, based on various factors like what they do with extra income and how much they pay their staff, but that wouldnt work either.


Yeah, I mean its been a long time since I've been to church (My father was a music pastor for an born again Christian denomination) so I would often accompany him for practice as a boy. However, as far as actual ministry goes at least for the denomination I was involved in Church services usually took place Friday - Sunday with little inner support groups from time to time on weekdays.

I've since come to be more of a secularist and if anything adhere to more Eastern philosophy as far as religious practice goes but I still understand that there are a lot of good western churches.

I'm curious why you think that wouldn't work? Is it because you think statements would be hidden and it would be hard to enforce the practice in reality?

I suppose in which case you would need audits to go around checking on Churches making sure their revenue reports match up with their actual congregation.

The thing about Revenue information is though it becomes very easy to find out who is lieing and who isn't when you actually start to understand the patterns. If we operate under the assumption that most Churches wouldn't lie to the government then the ones who do would become outliers who don't seem to match up with the pattern.

I think that is a safe assumption but then again who knows.

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Posted 1/25/17
I'm of two minds on this.. As a preacher's boy, I'm somewhat familiar with some of the financial practices of small churches. After basic expenses like property upkeep and wages, pretty much all of it goes back into the local community, feeding/clothing/sheltering the homeless, etc. Taxing them wouldn't necessarily force them all to close their doors, but it'd certainly cause them to scale back the amount of community service they provide.

Then you have your megachurches and large religious institutions that seem more concerned with turning a profit and advancing their own political agenda... Yeah... you can fleece them for all I care.


Sir_jamesalot wrote:

But baby Jesus needs your money.

What, did he already spend all the gold the third wise man brought? He doesn't need my money, he needs an accountant.
qwueri 
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Posted 1/25/17

mxdan wrote:

Personally I think we should differentiate between churches and non-profit organizations. Mainly because good NPO's are held to some sort of standard if they are to receive funding were as Churches become more ambiguous when it comes to their reasoning. NPO's usually have a direct goal in mind. For instance helping people with depression or trying to cure cancer. Can we say the same for churches? The directive seems to be one of many things but ultimately it is hard understand just what that is exactly. Especially when the people in charge of many congregations are living so lavishly.

Also it sort of goes into the Meta Ethical conversation about what churches actually do beyond that of a subjective opinion.


Churches have a main goal in mind: minister to their congregation and community, and often spend excess funds on expanding facilities to accommodate congregations and community outreach/charity. The main difference between churches and secular NPOs is that churches derive most of their funds from donations from their congregations rather than grants.

Most pastors are not heading mega churches and not rolling in money. Like good NPO's, the good pastors are putting most of the money towards care for their congregation and community.

Doing a quick glance, a senior pastor makes a median of ~$57k while a director of a non-profit makes a median of ~$59k.
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Senior_Pastor/Salary
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Director_Non-Profit_Organization/Salary

How church money is spent varies widely based on congregations, with small country churches relying on volunteer preachers and relying on donations for upkeep of the building and (if owned by the church) cemetery.
mxdan 
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Posted 1/25/17

qwueri wrote:


mxdan wrote:

Personally I think we should differentiate between churches and non-profit organizations. Mainly because good NPO's are held to some sort of standard if they are to receive funding were as Churches become more ambiguous when it comes to their reasoning. NPO's usually have a direct goal in mind. For instance helping people with depression or trying to cure cancer. Can we say the same for churches? The directive seems to be one of many things but ultimately it is hard understand just what that is exactly. Especially when the people in charge of many congregations are living so lavishly.

Also it sort of goes into the Meta Ethical conversation about what churches actually do beyond that of a subjective opinion.


Churches have a main goal in mind: minister to their congregation and community, and often spend excess funds on expanding facilities to accommodate congregations and community outreach/charity. The main difference between churches and secular NPOs is that churches derive most of their funds from donations from their congregations rather than grants.

Most pastors are not heading mega churches and not rolling in money. Like good NPO's, the good pastors are putting most of the money towards care for their congregation and community.

Doing a quick glance, a senior pastor makes a median of ~$57k while a director of a non-profit makes a median of ~$59k.
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Senior_Pastor/Salary
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Director_Non-Profit_Organization/Salary

How church money is spent varies widely based on congregations, with small country churches relying on volunteer preachers and relying on donations for upkeep of the building and (if owned by the church) cemetery.


Oh I was under the impression that pastors make even less then that. The averages I've heard put them in the figure of 35 - 40 thousand a year. And that's with the outliers pushing the medium off a bit.

Yep I don't disagree with you here. Later in my posts I bring up the idea of taxation perhaps over a certain percentage of income. What do you think?
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Posted 1/25/17 , edited 1/25/17
Yes, no need to tax them, some churches are already struggling (a good example was a church I used to go to in Kentucky, which used the money it had to help the poor and fix the church when needed)
Jikkle 
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Posted 1/25/17
Not just churches but in general I'm not in favor of more taxing of anybody.

To me it doesn't fix the real problems. How about instead of taxing more the government spends the money more wisely? How about instead of taking more money to pay for food stamps we work to get people off the food stamps in the first place?

It's just like when it comes time to vote you somehow manage to always have a proposition to give schools more money and yet all you hear is how woefully underfunded schools are year after year.

In regards to Churches being taxed I would say no. Yes there are some mega churches that exploit it but it's far from the norm and most churches are modest and in quite a lot of areas they are really only type of community center and outreach for communities. I just trust the churches to spend the money wisely to the betterment of the community than I do the government.

Yea it sounds great that if we tax the churches it would pay for homes for the homeless and welfare but let's be real and know that's not going to happen. It's just more money for bureaucrats to mismanage and waste.



qwueri 
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Posted 1/25/17

mxdan wrote:

Oh I was under the impression that pastors make even less then that. The averages I've heard put them in the figure of 35 - 40 thousand a year. And that's with the outliers pushing the medium off a bit.

Yep I don't disagree with you here. Later in my posts I bring up the idea of taxation perhaps over a certain percentage of income. What do you think?


I think you'd also have to start differentiating income for NPOs as well. Targeting churches only just comes across as a cheap secular swipe and wouldn't fly in public opinion outside the internet.
Posted 1/25/17 , edited 1/25/17
I suppose that taxation would hurt small churches, like the few Old Order Mennonite and Amish churches floating around in PA, but quite a few of the larger churches can certainly more than afford it. Personally, I would tax the mega-churches.
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Posted 1/25/17 , edited 1/25/17
I think it's good the way it is. Religious leaders get their rights respected by only hiring people from their faith and not being forced to provide things that go against their beliefs. They also do not pay into a government that at times doesn't have their best interests at heart.
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Posted 1/25/17
I think if your pastor has a private jet then perhaps yes, you should get your ass taxed. >.>

mxdan 
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Posted 1/25/17

MysticGon wrote:

I think it's good the way it is. Religious leaders get their rights respected by only hiring people from their faith and not being forced to provide things that go against their beliefs. They also do not pay into a government that at times doesn't have their best interests at heart.


Awe the traditional economics approach. Don't change what isn't broken?
mxdan 
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Posted 1/25/17

qwueri wrote:


mxdan wrote:

Oh I was under the impression that pastors make even less then that. The averages I've heard put them in the figure of 35 - 40 thousand a year. And that's with the outliers pushing the medium off a bit.

Yep I don't disagree with you here. Later in my posts I bring up the idea of taxation perhaps over a certain percentage of income. What do you think?


I think you'd also have to start differentiating income for NPOs as well. Targeting churches only just comes across as a cheap secular swipe and wouldn't fly in public opinion outside the internet.


Agreed! Small businesses and small NPOs should be exempt as to not discourage the creation of either.
lawdog 
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Posted 1/25/17 , edited 1/25/17
No.

It would violate the First Amendment of the Constitution. You should well consider that the Founding Fathers put both Freedom of Religion and Freedom of the Press in the very First Amendment.

Britain had an official state religion, the Church of England. Other religions had to pay a special tax, to have the "freedom" to worship. Governments and religions have often had opposing views.

Consider this thought: Imagine the possible abuses of imposing taxes on Black Churches back in the 1950s and 1960s during the battles for desegregation and for Civil Rights?

How can you have religious liberty if you're forcing a church to pay taxes which fund measures which go against the teachings of that religion?

The answer is: You can't.
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Posted 1/25/17

lawdog wrote:
No.

It would violate the First Amendment of the Constitution. You should well consider that the Founding Fathers put both Freedom of Religion and Freedom of the Press in the very First Amendment.


Well, the problem isn't the principle. It's the kind of shit that's being done under the guise of that principle. I doubt the Founding Father's envisioned Creflow Dollar when they were working on the First Amendment. A lot of shady shit goes on under the guise of church tax exemption but it's become a sacred cow that no one wants to step in and properly regulate.
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Posted 1/25/17 , edited 1/25/17

Dark_Alma wrote:

If churches want a voice in politics, they should pay taxes.

If they don't want a voice in politics (LGBT, Abortion, etc) then they can keep it. As I see it currently.. People like Pence are using religion in politics to shove it down the throat of those who don't believe. So currently I say tax the fuck out of churches. That money could go for so much good...



This ^^^

Of course they should pay taxes, also. What about "tithing" within churches? (Which is funny, because within their own book, there is NOTHING about tiding being a thing mentioned.) If people are enforced to donate some of their money, they should certainly pay taxes.
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