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View Full Version : Should religious organizations be tax sheltered?



Shang
02-23-2011, 04:22 PM
Anyone want to put their oar in the water, pro or con?

McMike
02-23-2011, 04:34 PM
No.

I think charity is one thing, if an organization gives to a charity or allocates funds for charitable acts then those funds should be an allowable tax write-off. There should also be a percentage that is allowed to be written off as overhead for the charity, say an additional 5% of the contribution.

S.V. Airlie
02-23-2011, 04:36 PM
McMike..The churches do a lot of charitable works..Kitchens for the homeless. Refuges for the homeless. to mention two

B_B
02-23-2011, 04:36 PM
Absolutely not; with neither oar.
Nor should Religious 'Schools' be subsidized.

James McMullen
02-23-2011, 04:37 PM
Not when they're money-making organizations.

Shang
02-23-2011, 04:56 PM
From the Bill of Rights:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

However that doesn't seem relevant to the question of taxation of religious organizations, unless one wished to argue that taxation prohibited "the free exercise thereof."

wardd
02-23-2011, 04:58 PM
Not when they're money-making organizations.

or if they act as shills for political parties

Shang
02-23-2011, 05:03 PM
McMike..The churches do a lot of charitable works..Kitchens for the homeless. Refuges for the homeless. to mention two

True, but there are some religious organizations that provide no services for the homeless or for anybody else.
I know of a local "church" which receives donations from people in the community but does no charatable work. The donations go to the family that forms the core of the group. They occupy a building but pay no real estate tax.

wardd
02-23-2011, 05:05 PM
can you force a church to extend it's charity to believers of another faith than it's own?

Shang
02-23-2011, 05:15 PM
can you force a church to extend it's charity to believers of another faith than it's own?

Forcing a church to extend itself to others would present problems, but if a church did so voluntarily that would be a real demonstration of confidence and faith.

I'm not sure I would agree that they earned a tax break, but at least I'd be more favorably disposed toward them.

wardd
02-23-2011, 05:18 PM
Forcing a church to extend itself to others would present problems, but if a church did so voluntarily that would be a real demonstration of confidence and faith.

I'm not sure I would agree that they earned a tax break, but at least I'd be more favorably disposed toward them.

my point, if a churches charity is restrictive should the broad spectrum of the public support it with tax relief

McMike
02-23-2011, 05:33 PM
McMike..The churches do a lot of charitable works..Kitchens for the homeless. Refuges for the homeless. to mention two


And those works should be tax deductable, but not the church as a whole IMO.

There is a whole street owned by a church in Milford, CT, they don't pay any property tax or income tax but they get rent from tenants that have nothing to do with charity.

Shang
02-23-2011, 05:37 PM
my point, if a churches charity is restrictive should the broad spectrum of the public support it with tax relief

Quid pro quo, charitable works across the board, in exchange for tax breaks?
The paperwork would be a nightmare, but the concept sounds viable.

Shang
02-23-2011, 05:41 PM
And those works should be tax deductable, but not the church as a whole IMO.

There is a whole street owned by a church in Milford, CT, they don't pay any property tax or income tax but they get rent from tenants that have nothing to do with charity.

And what about the mega-churches (not naming any names, but you know who they are), there's not a chance that their good works equal the value of their real estate holdings.

bobbys
02-23-2011, 05:50 PM
If i send my kids to Catholic school should i get a Voucher from the Gov taking off a percentage of my Property Taxes as I am not using their service.?.

If i Go to a Catholic Hospital should i get a Waiver From Obamacare?

Bob Adams
02-23-2011, 05:54 PM
If my little church, whose members are slowly dying off, had to pay property tax on the church property (paid off long ago), it would bankrupt us.

skuthorp
02-23-2011, 05:55 PM
There were whole suburbs owned by the Catholic and Anglican church in Melbourne, mostly degraded housing and in my youth often just one tap cold water unsewered places. Slum landlords with no rates paid. I'm sure the properties are better but I'm sure the rate matter hasn't changed. OTOH the major churches carry a lot of the charitable load that allows governments to avoid their responsibilities. I'd say that on a local level it's probably a neutral situation, but some of the newer less ethical 'faiths' should be very carefully scrutinised. I have an old friend that reckons the christian churches should all be charged 2000 years back taxes on the grounds of fraud and misrepresentation.

gibetheridge
02-23-2011, 05:56 PM
Net income should be subject to income tax and real estate holdings subject to property tax. Otherwise taxpayers in general are subsidizing religious organizations.

There's a person who owns a multimillion dollar waterfront property here on the island who declared the property, and, rumor has it, several others, to be Shinto Shrines. She pays no property tax. For a considerable fee you can attend gatherings at her shrine.

paladin
02-23-2011, 09:28 PM
I was ordained as a Pentecostal Minister when I left school in the fifties....90% of my male friends who were significantly native American blood did so. You were literally marched to class, escorted to sunday school and church, and there was no way out of it. It's probably the primary reason I left home and went into the military. I saw from the inside how many (most) of the "churches" were merely tax dodges for the "ministers" that were indoctrinating us.
On the other hand, my nephews church engages in activities primarily in South America. They build churches, schools etc, take their own food and water down while there, usually 2-3 weeks at a time. Hold prayer meetings but do not require the attendance of the locals. Then leave after turning the buildings over to the village. They also adopt orphans and homeless children and send them to school, and each family sends their own charges to college.
Niece's church is a similar set up.
The other nephew has his own church and takes in wayward children and does much the same, he has 3 in college at the moment.
Who would you grant tax free status to?

Shang
02-23-2011, 09:46 PM
Net income should be subject to income tax and real estate holdings subject to property tax. Otherwise taxpayers in general are subsidizing religious organizations.

There's a person who owns a multimillion dollar waterfront property here on the island who declared the property, and, rumor has it, several others, to be Shinto Shrines. She pays no property tax. For a considerable fee you can attend gatherings at her shrine.

Did I forget to mention that my place at the lake is The Chapel Above the Waters? My dock is The Shrine of the Holy Chris Craft...

KM Bever
02-23-2011, 10:21 PM
I'm only an expert in paying taxes, I do that (unfortunately) to well. I know very little about the church and such taxes. But it seems that some churches are more like "Six Flags of GOD" amusement parks that doing the works of Jesus. I just left a church that was evolving into to such a church. It's what you do outside the doors of the church, than inside.

But, yes they should pay taxes on their non charity money and property should be taxed the same. If the have a high dollar worship center and a low dollar health clinic. the property tax is on the worship center. But than sure would be a can of worms. The politicians seem to go to the big churches.

The Judge
02-23-2011, 10:40 PM
Perhaps churches should have to apply to the IRS for non profit status just like any other non profit organization does. There are thousands of non profit organizations that own costly real estate and pay handsome salaries, many of which do no charitable work at all, so the broad brush complaints about churches being money makers fail to hold water, and frankly smack of anti religious prejudice.

The process for applying for non profit status is VERY thorough and should separate the worthy from the not, just as it already does with countless other organizations.

MiddleAgesMan
02-23-2011, 10:46 PM
You can say that again, Judge.

Shang
02-23-2011, 10:46 PM
My Church Above the Waters’ charitable projects includes “The Claustrophobics of America Social House.” To make the claustrophobics feel comfortable the structure has no walls, roof or floor. This makes it somewhat difficult to see, but if you wish to contribute just make the check to the initials of the charity: C.A.S.H.

paladin
02-23-2011, 10:47 PM
I think anytime a church starts getting into politics of any kind, their tax exemption goes in the bucket.

Shang
02-23-2011, 11:05 PM
I think anytime a church starts getting into politics of any kind, their tax exemption goes in the bucket.

Agreed.
They can't have it both ways.

Uhh... what if we applied that plan to large corporations too...!
Oh, I forgot, the Supreme Court said corporations could mess with politics and get tax breaks too.

ramillett
02-23-2011, 11:38 PM
It would be interesting to see how this country would work without all the loop holes , and special treatment , everyone equal .

paladin
02-23-2011, 11:46 PM
My Church Above the Waters’ charitable projects includes “The Claustrophobics of America Social House.” To make the claustrophobics feel comfortable the structure has no walls, roof or floor. This makes it somewhat difficult to see, but if you wish to contribute just make the check to the initials of the charity: C.A.S.H.

The money will go to a good cause.China Post 1, American Legion, Shanghai, China, in exile since WWII, Our secretary bookkeeper was Charles A.S. Helseth, so CASH on the name line works for us, and we do good works.

WX
02-23-2011, 11:52 PM
From the Bill of Rights:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

However that doesn't seem relevant to the question of taxation of religious organizations, unless one wished to argue that taxation prohibited "the free exercise thereof."
To my way of thinking that only applies to freedom of belief, not freedom from taxation. Pray but pay your dues.

Paul G.
02-24-2011, 12:11 AM
there is no way I want my taxes to enrich or subsidise people who molest children, act like hucksters or talk to invisible people and think Im abnormal because I dont

Shang
02-24-2011, 02:36 PM
there is no way I want my taxes to enrich or subsidise people who molest children, act like hucksters or talk to invisible people and think Im abnormal because I dont

I bet you don't think that all of the animals on earth lived within walking distance of Noah's house.

David G
02-24-2011, 03:16 PM
Here's an outline of the history and rationale. Unlerlining is mine:


Well, until the United States Constitution was amended to allow income taxes there was no need for federal income tax exemptions. But then the Congress started exempting. The reason and history is well told starting on page 9 of
http://tinyurl.com/ys4zna
which follows:

Since the founding of the United States and even in the earlier colonial
period, tax exemption—particularly with respect to religious organiza-
tions—was common. Churches were openly and uniformly spared taxation.
This practice has been sustained throughout the nation’s history—not only at
the federal but at the state and local levels as well, most significantly with
property taxation. The U.S. Supreme Court, soon after the commencement of
the nation’s tax system, concluded that the foregoing rationalization was the
basis for the federal tax exemption for charitable entities. In 1924, the Court
noted that “[e]vidently the exemption is made in recognition of the benefit
which the public derives from corporate activities of the class named, and is
18
intended to aid them when not conducted for private gain.” Many years
later, the Court, in upholding the constitutionality of the tax exemption for
religious organizations, observed that “[t]he State has an affirmative policy
that considers these groups as beneficial and stabilizing influences in com-
munity life and finds this classification [tax exemption] useful, desirable,
19
and in the public interest.”

In respect to the exemption for charitable organizations, a federal court of
appeals wrote that “[o]ne stated reason for a deduction or exemption of this
kind is that the favored entity performs a public service and benefits the pub-
20
lic or relieves it of a burden which otherwise belongs to it.” One federal court
wrote that the reason for the charitable contribution deduction has “histori-
cally been that by doing so, the Government relieves itself of the burden of
meeting public needs which in the absence of charitable activity would fall on
21
the shoulders of the Government.”
One of the rare congressional pronouncements on this subject is further
evidence of this public policy aspect of the rationale. In its committee report ac-
companying the Revenue Act of 1938, the House Committee on Ways and
Means stated:
The exemption from taxation of money or property devoted to charitable
and other purposes is based upon the theory that government is compen-
sated for the loss of revenue by its relief from financial burden which
would otherwise have to be met by appropriations from public funds, and
22
by the benefits resulting from the promotion of the general welfare.


So...what it boils down to in my mind is that the nation believes that churches add sufficiently to the social fabric to justify foregoing potential tax revenue.

Scott Rosen
02-24-2011, 03:49 PM
Your donations to a church are tax deductible to you individually. The church doesn't pay income tax on it. The cleric who lives in the parsonage paid for by those donations gets additional tax breaks. And the entire congregation uses the community resources like police, fire, roads, etc. without paying property tax.

It doesn't seem fair, especially as to property tax. If I want to start an agnostic temple (atheists welcome), I don't get any of those breaks -- even if my agnostic minister preaches the very same social and moral code as the mainstream religions. Even if I can qualify as a non-profit for tax purposes, I've still got to pay local property taxes, unlike the church next door.

Then again, I think the home mortgage deduction is unfair . . .

ahp
02-25-2011, 10:01 AM
It depends on whether they are in competition with other businesses. Many years ago my mother ran a nursery school In Darien Connecticut. She complained, and rightly so, that she was in competition with one of the local churches which was running a nursery school on their tax free buildings and land. Was that fair? Their children were not charity cases, especially in Darien.