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Poll: Should Churches be Taxed Less than Businesses?

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posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 05:50 AM
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originally posted by: wayforward
Should churches be taxed less than businesses? Please explain your answer. I'm curious to see what the ATS members have to say about the topic. If this poll gets to the 2nd page I'll add my own opinion.



...disclaimer: I'm a Christian. I'm one of those "I believe the BIble is inerrant, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was crucified, died, and was buried" types.


Now.
Should the Church be taxed less than a business?

No.
In fact, if Churches were actually operating in a manner aligned with the Bible, they wouldn't retain any money at all. Every dollar that goes in, should go out - no investments, no hidden stashes of cash, nothing.
Although, to be fair, if we're going to go all Biblical on the issue, churches were always in people's homes... it wasn't until the State-Sanctioned religion kicked in under Constantine that churches had buildings of their own. ...and while I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with that, the trappings that came along with those buildings have led to situations like this.

So... no.

Chuches should:

pay tax
be entirely non-profit
not retain cash
not retain holdings
not retain land (except perhaps for the purpose of the actual places of worship)
spend their money on the poor
support widows
...and above all else, preach the simple truth of the gospel: that Jesus Christ died to solve the fundamental problem that separates us from God, and that there is only One Way to God: through Him.




posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 07:06 AM
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Tax them all .. make them give back their ill got gains ..



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 07:07 AM
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originally posted by: Awen24

originally posted by: wayforward
Should churches be taxed less than businesses? Please explain your answer. I'm curious to see what the ATS members have to say about the topic. If this poll gets to the 2nd page I'll add my own opinion.



...disclaimer: I'm a Christian. I'm one of those "I believe the BIble is inerrant, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was crucified, died, and was buried" types.


Now.
Should the Church be taxed less than a business?

No.
In fact, if Churches were actually operating in a manner aligned with the Bible, they wouldn't retain any money at all. Every dollar that goes in, should go out - no investments, no hidden stashes of cash, nothing.
Although, to be fair, if we're going to go all Biblical on the issue, churches were always in people's homes... it wasn't until the State-Sanctioned religion kicked in under Constantine that churches had buildings of their own. ...and while I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with that, the trappings that came along with those buildings have led to situations like this.

So... no.

Chuches should:

pay tax
be entirely non-profit
not retain cash
not retain holdings
not retain land (except perhaps for the purpose of the actual places of worship)
spend their money on the poor
support widows
...and above all else, preach the simple truth of the gospel: that Jesus Christ died to solve the fundamental problem that separates us from God, and that there is only One Way to God: through Him.
for once one who truly understands the teachings of their faith .. well said



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 07:18 AM
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Aren't many churches actually businesses hiding behind this law? And don't businesses get a tax break too, and abuse it too?

And also what kind of taxes are we talking about here? Land? School? Sales? Income? Of course they should be taxed for all these things, just as anyone else would (okay, should) be.

A more fundamental question might be, why do churches even have money and need to be worrying about this to begin with?



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 07:49 AM
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a reply to: wayforward

As long as GE has a zero tax liability, so should my church.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 08:37 AM
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Churches aren't taxed at all because if they were it would violate separation of church and state. Now if only we could get religion out of politics then we'd be moving in the right direction.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 10:03 AM
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The Op has asked about taxation of churches and other religious organizations in the USA. The pros and cons about such and it should be given great thought.

The first thing is that most Churches have been tax exempt for a long time. The practice goes back to the time of the Roman Empire, where Constantine, was the first monarch to do such, which has been recorded in history. Even when the country was started, that tradition continued into the new country where it was considered to be bad form and distasteful to tax a religious organization.

In 1954, it became federal law that a church or religious organizations were exempt from taxes, by an act of congress, thus setting them apart from society. And with good reason, if the government were to tax one group, to be fair and equal, then all religious organizations would have to pay taxes, and that could break some to the point of no return. Millions if not billions could be affected by such a move.
There are good reasons for and against taxing a religious organization, however, I would say not to. I am for not taxing the church and believe it is a bad idea.

To tax a church, while yes it would mean that there would be an income, but there is a tradeoff to such. It would mean that the church then would have a political say in the goings on in the government. Church’s would have the right to due process, and all that goes along with it, including a minister standing at the pulpit and telling his congregation on how to vote. Think about it; take some of the huge televangelist with an audience of millions, spanning across the country, if he had to pay taxes, could use his pulpit as a forum to make a political speech to the masses, and sway an election.

However, there has to be a fine point, and I believe that sometimes the courts are too lenient against violators in the past. Religious organizations that have actively gotten into the political fray should be required, as punishment for doing such, along with revoking of their tax exempt status, to pay taxes on all of their holdings and back taxes to go back to say 1954. And any religious church, where say a minister breaks the law, and it is proven in a court of law, should also be under that same penalty as well, where they could lose everything for such misconduct on their part. It would take one or 2 of the major church’s having this happen to, to send a strong and clear message to the rest, as long as they stay out of politics, then they have nothing to fear, and will remain in the tax exempt status, but cross that line and the punishment will be harsh enough to shut down the doors and revoke said status of that particular church for years, along with the requirements to pay all of the back taxes and current ones, along with interest and penalties.


I can think of 3 such organizations that within the past 13 years that have stepped over the line and did not get punished, just a stern warning, and the threat of do it again and they lose.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 10:08 AM
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a reply to: 3NL1GHT3N3D1

But it would not be churches or religion that would be taxed.

It is land. It is sales tax. It is income tax. Just like everyone else is for those things because they are used to provide services and security for everyone.

If a church catches fire, the fire department still comes. So let me turn that around and say, why should my taxes pay for that? This is as much a "separation of church and state" as taxing them would be.

Let me put it this way. Taxes are in the secular realm and so are the physical aspects of the things we tax. Religion is a layer on top of that realm, a subset of it, and being so should not absolve anyone of the base responsibilities we all share.

Ugh.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 12:41 PM
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a reply to: 3NL1GHT3N3D1

Well said. To clarify my earlier post, I don't think Churches should be taxed.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 02:43 PM
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It would seem fair to me to make all charities (and I'll include churches in a loose definition of the word) keep annual accounts that should be audited by an independent auditors. All monies that have not found to have been spent on demonstrably charitable actions should be liable to tax.

As I rider to that I would suggest that if anyone cares to look at the assets of most well established religions, say the Vatican for example, and can explain how all that wealth and power was attained through purely charitable work then I would love to hear the explanation. Religions are clearly businesses - always have been and always will be.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 03:32 PM
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Churches hold legal (tax code) 501c status, implying they are "non-profit" organizations.

However, I think we all know this is not the case. Not only do the congregations rake in huge profits . . . most do not go to "community projects". I'm not saying the some congregations don't give to charity or provide that charity themselves, but they also build extravagant buildings (see state of the art mega-churches complexes in America or the opulent temples of LDS) and pay their administrators/pastors salaries that we would all kill for. They also invest those funds, buy property, donate/fund political candidates, run t.v. and radio stations, etc. We also are all aware of the many, many examples of misappropriation and greed these church leaders have demonstrated over the years (i.e. living in mansions and driving $100k cars while their congregations struggle to pay their own bills).

No churches should not be "taxed less". . . churches should be taxed as businesses, just like all other revenue driven entities. For those congregations that do actually provide charitable work . . . They can have a separate (although run by the church) non-profit associated with the business. This is how all corporations/business must operate. In fact, every company I've worked for had a separate "side" that was labeled as 501c, so they could provide charity/free services or advice/run events asking for donations to "their" cause.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 03:34 PM
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a reply to: sdcigarpig
Great points and post!

Second.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 03:44 PM
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As long as churches stay out of the political arena then they should remain tax free. But when you see televangelist buying mansions and driving high priced luxury cars then they should be investigated and perhaps taxed because the money obviously isn't going to charity.
edit on 7-6-2014 by buster2010 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 03:47 PM
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Churches should not be taxed. That's donation money.
The government should keep their hands off it.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 03:54 PM
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Why does almost every minister seem to be VERY well off? The minister at my moms church has 2 houses.....



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 03:55 PM
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originally posted by: FlyersFan
Churches should not be taxed. That's donation money.
The government should keep their hands off it.


That's not entirely true . . . many congregations hold events (like concerts - etc.), charge for use of their facilities, run youth sports leagues, buy and sell property for profit, receive income from investments, sell merchandise, recieve money for appearing/hosting in t.v./radio programs, daycare programs, pre-schools, rental properties.

So . . . no, it's not all "donations" from the flock or local business.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 03:56 PM
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originally posted by: Euphem
Why does almost every minister seem to be VERY well off? The minister at my moms church has 2 houses.....


That's simply do to the good-hearted nature of their struggling parishioners/flock . . .

[/sarcasm]



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 03:57 PM
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a reply to: solomons path

That means they are smart about bringing in money to keep their church going ... to keep their church outreaches (hospitals and schools, etc) running. They are smart investors. Good for them! Again ... the government should keep their hands off church money.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 04:00 PM
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Until the US decides to begin taxing the NFL and other sports organizations I see no reason to tax churches. I'm not a member of any church but I see on a daily basis the benefits that churches provide for our community.



posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 04:07 PM
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originally posted by: FlyersFan
a reply to: solomons path

That means they are smart about bringing in money to keep their church going ... to keep their church outreaches (hospitals and schools, etc) running. They are smart investors. Good for them! Again ... the government should keep their hands off church money.

Hey . . . goalposts . . . where did you go?

That's right . . . you are over there by the "get money from donations" argument . . . Let me move to face you.

That's better.

No . . . it means they are generating revenue through business ventures, which would land any secular 501c in deep doo-doo with the IRS.

Churches are running tax free business and the people who run them are directly benefiting.

First, unrelated business income is taxable at the corporate tax rate (i.e., subject to the unrelated business income tax (UBIT)). Second, an exempt organization cannot engage in more than an insubstantial amount of unrelated business activity without risk of losing its tax-exempt status.

An "unrelated business" is defined by the IRS as: (1) a trade or business, (2) regularly carried on, and (3) not substantially related to furthering the exempt purpose of the organization. All three elements must be met and the third element is usually the most difficult to analyze.


Churches can set up a joint venture to protect their 501c status, by setting up a corporation that deals with the revenue end and a 501c that deals strickly with "donations" and charitable work. However, despite the abuse churches engage in, in this manner, no one in the government is going to instruct the IRS to "look into" the charlatans that run the churches . . . unless of course they get "too big for their britches", so to speak.



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