Author Topic: Taxation and the Church in the USA  (Read 797 times)

jimbob

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Taxation and the Church in the USA
« on: December 19, 2018, 05:45:13 PM »
I doubt if many members of this forum will disagree, but it outrages me that the US tax laws allow vast sums to go into the coffers of religious institutions. I suppose the law was designed to provide for the welfare of the needy, and permit donations to such groups to be written off the individuals tax obligations; and the receiving institutions to be untaxed on the receipts as well.

the recent expose of Scientology and it's use of tax exempt monies, must surely anger many viewers of the series; and perhaps encourage them to look into the use of their religious institutions finances as well.

the question is: will any elected official risk political suicide by proposing an end to such corruption? am I being a Pollyanna in thinking that the religious right appears to be losing it's cachet? will the voter eventually find sanity and support the end of this fiscal give-away?

EDIT: Split from existing topic. Tank
« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 07:54:09 AM by Tank »

jimbob

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2018, 07:16:17 PM »
having been granted a topic of it's own (thank you Tank), I would like to expand the thinking a bit:

will there ever be an opportunity for an atheist candidate to run a viable challenge for president of the US?

the Protestant Right Wing appears to be running out of steam.
the Catholic vote seems to be finally discouraged by the endless stream of sexual abuses committed by their clergy.
the Muslim voters have allienated themselves by association of radical Islamic terrorists.
the quasi religious voters of cults such as Scientologists, are being exposed as fradulent exploiters of tax laws.
blacks of religious pursuasion are questioning the value of spirituality, over political power.

will there, in our life time, come the election when an openly Atheist candidate is able to present a viable alternative to basic theological governance?

Tank

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2018, 09:52:08 PM »
All members can start threads. Feel free to open any you like. If one on the same vain already exists a staff member will tag it on the end :)
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
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Icarus

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2018, 01:38:59 AM »
Those are some questions that are worth contemplation JimBob.

I do not imagine that an openly "confessed" atheist will ever be elected to  major office during my lifetime.  Never mind Major office. He/she will not even be elected as a dog catcher.  We live in a society that is steeped in the Jesus realm of belief. 


Tank

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2018, 08:17:35 AM »
Isn't there at least one atheist senator?
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Asmodean

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2018, 09:23:12 AM »
In general, I am against taxation of money already-taxed. There are a few qualifiers though, one of them being money changing hands. If the hot dog vendor and the psychologist have to pay taxes from their earnings, then so should churches.

In my country (and many others, from what I know) we have this distasteful practice of "wealth tax," meaning that if I bought a house and paid down my loans, having a positive wealth overhead due to owning a house, the government would then tax me based on that positive wealth. It's not a revenue tax - that, I'm perfectly OK with. It's an added tax on the money I already paid my fair share out of. Yes, it may be that my house increases in value over the years, but unless I sell it, that value is bound capital, and not very accessible variety at that. I know of businesses who have run into serious financial problems because of that. For example, imagine that you are a company and you own ten million USD in construction machinery. You struggle to get contracts, so the money is not flowing in at an optimal rate, yet the government still wants its cut of those ten million you have in machines. What are you supposed to do? Sell them?

In any case, the point of the above rambling was to say that I think churches should pay income tax like "everyone else," but not a "wealth tax" on for example buildings in which they operate. (For rental spaces, I refer to the income tax)


I do have more to say about this, but... Maybe after work.
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Sandra Craft

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2018, 11:02:16 PM »
Isn't there at least one atheist senator?

Yes, Ernie Chambers, the Senator from Nebraska (of all places) is an atheist.  So is Jerod Huffman, a Representative from California, but I think that's it among U.S legislators -- there are probably more on the state level.  There are four Senators who are "unaffliliated", which can mean any number of things.  But one of them is my beloved Tammy Duckworth, and I have high hopes of her turning out to be an atheist.
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Sandra Craft

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2018, 11:09:05 PM »
To the best of my understanding, the point of not taxing churches or clergy is to preserve the separation of church and State.  The State can tax a church or clergy if they violate the separation clause, but one guess as to how many times the IRS has done that. 
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Tank

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2018, 11:07:44 AM »
To the best of my understanding, the point of not taxing churches or clergy is to preserve the separation of church and State.  The State can tax a church or clergy if they violate the separation clause, but one guess as to how many times the IRS has done that.

That makes sense. I seem to recall there was something about 'No taxation without representation!'
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Bad Penny II

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2018, 12:56:59 PM »
Here there are lots of not for profit organisations.
Sporting clubs, community organisations and the like.
They don't make a profit as such though they may have a surplus but they aren't taxed.
I don't have a problem with that, churches are similar so I don't feel indignant about it.
I think they should pay the local property based taxes though.
Certainty disturbs me


Icarus

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2018, 01:53:04 AM »
I am in favor of having churches pay the same kinds of property taxes that I pay.  My taxes are used for community projects such as roads, schools, law enforcement, fire departments, water utilities, garbage disposal, street lighting, and a bunch more things that we are agreeable with. 

But the church properties do enjoy the same benefits that I and my neighbors do. They do not pay their fair share.  Megachurches may have a thousand cars show up on a Sunday morning.  The traffic police shepherd that traffic at some cost to the city or county.  They get a free ride for those kinds of costs.

And then there are some income tax rules that put the Ministers and preachers in a different and deferential category.  I am not cool with that either.  They work and I work but I am obliged to pay income taxes on my earnings whereas the clergy are in a separate category that gets some breaks that I do not have available.   

Our system of taxation is biased in favor of religious entities and its personnel. Our first amendment is not being fairly adjudicated.

Ecurb Noselrub

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2018, 02:24:31 PM »
I'm in favor of churches paying property taxes.  Churches rarely separate themselves completely from politics, so paying property tax is fair.  If it is a truly non-political group like the Amish, maybe an exception is warranted, but not for the average church.

Icarus

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2018, 07:57:53 PM »
If we ever imposed an ordinary tax on church properties, the Catholic church would be in deep financial trouble.  Property taxes are generally assessed in accordance with value of the property and its buildings.  Some of the incredibly opulent structures belonging to the Catholic church would be taxed so seriously that the coffers would soon be drained.

The same idea goes for such places as the Morman tabernacle, Joel Osteen's colossal church, and quite a few others that  large and architecturally impressive.

As little as I care about the business of such places, I do not think that we can or should  contemplate forcing them to pay their fair share.  I'm also thinking of the tiny little churches in the back woods of Georgia, Kentucky and elsewhere.  Those little churches do serve a social purpose that is needed by the congregants. 

Damn, I must be getting soft in my old age.


Sandra Craft

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Re: Taxation and the Church in the USA
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2018, 10:33:11 PM »
Damn, I must be getting soft in my old age.

I think if we did start taxing church property there'd need to be a threshold that would leave tiny churches out of the tax loop.  As for the big ones, I think if the church takes in enough money for the pastor to afford a private jet, it can afford to pay property taxes.
Sandy

  

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