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Old 08-29-2013, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Vernon, British Columbia
3,020 posts, read 2,703,264 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
I'm afraid that you will have to do better than just claiming that we don't understand the difference between a business and and a none-profit organization. I have my doubts that churches are non -profit organizations. If it suits them to register as such in order to make even more profit through not paying tax, that should be stopped.
I wasn't referring to you so not sure what the "we" business is. I'm sure that some churches do make money, but most churches don't have ever increasing bank accounts. There is a good argument to tax churches that do rake in the money, especially these televangelist ones. I was merely stating established truth that most churches are small non-profits.

Personally, I'm agnostic about taxing churches because I don't know which ones are the ones that provide meals for the poor. If the non-profit churches are the ones doing all the work, then I say let's tax the churches because the tax would only effect those rich churches that do nothing but televangelize. If, however, these rich churches also provide services to the poor and needy, then I'm less inclined to favor the idea of church taxation because churches and non-profit organizations deliver services much more efficiently than the government; increasing the burden of government effects all of us who pay taxes negatively.
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Old 08-29-2013, 10:44 AM
 
39,260 posts, read 10,922,331 times
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I suppose what We are saying is that giving to charity is not offset against paying tax on your car and even if you cam claim to have the tax offset, you still pay the tax. Charitable work should not in principle excuse one taxes.

In any case tax exemption is not because of charitable work done, but because they are religious organizations. Abolish the tax exemptions on the basis or religious privilege and we'll talk about charitable work as a separate issue.
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:03 AM
 
Location: Beautiful Rhode Island
6,859 posts, read 11,141,263 times
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I think taxing churches would raise too many issues involving separation of church and state.

This is not in their defense, since their nonprofit status is often completely undeserved. The Catholic Church, to name one, holds billions in assets. The mega "Jimmy Swaggert" churches are obviously for profit institutions.

The problem is whether the state can or should determine which "religions" are legitimate.
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,210 posts, read 18,619,681 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollytree View Post
I think taxing churches would raise too many issues involving separation of church and state.

This is not in their defense, since their nonprofit status is often completely undeserved. The Catholic Church, to name one, holds billions in assets. The mega "Jimmy Swaggert" churches are obviously for profit institutions.

The problem is whether the state can or should determine which "religions" are legitimate.
In your second paragraph you readily identify two institutions which you deem undeserving of tax exemption status. In your third paragraph you claim the state cannot do what you just finished doing in your second paragraph.
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,104,852 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollytree View Post
The problem is whether the state can or should determine which "religions" are legitimate.
No one is suggesting that the state confer (il)legitimacy on religions, only determine whether they are legitimately exemptible from taxation. That should be fairly easy to determine objectively; the problem is really that it's an entrenched practice and it will terrify theists with "slippery slope" concerns and conspiracy theories; it'll be seen as an attack on freedom of religion when it's actually an attack on a too-cozy relationship between church and state in the form of state endorsement / support of religion. Although this support stops short of selecting a specific denomination as some sort of official state church, and even is inclusive of non-Christian religions, it's still setting too low a bar for what constitutes a not-for-profit organization.

I believe that all NGOs, religious or otherwise, should be exempt from taxation on not-for-profit secular social services that would otherwise fall on governments and/or families or go unprovided for. Such services do not in my view include religious indoctrination or religious rituals. It involves providing food, shelter, health care, child care without indoctrination or proselytizing that frees up working parents to earn a living, things like that. It involves providing non-religious education to the same standards and requirements as public schools and colleges; organizations not comfortable with some part of that (e.g., scientifically accepted theories of natural history) should just abstain.

In practice it's hard to understand how an organization that takes the mandate of (in the case of Christianity) the Great Commission seriously can be trusted to provide social services without working in a good word for the invisible sky buddy. I have seen this more than once as a condition attached to relief and social services provided by missionaries abroad; we'll feed you folks who are starving but you also have to watch a badly dubbed old film about the life of Christ. We'll give you surplus US medical gear for your clinic if you put Gideon Bibles in all the bed stands. For this reason I think it's arguably just as well to say that religious organization should not get mixed up in secular social services because the system to segregate and argue about what constitutes secular activities kept clear of religious strings attached is too time consuming, subjective and contentious to be worth the effort.

Besides, in a world in which churches are churches and NGOs are NGOs, there would still be plenty of surreptitious influence from the religious upon the NGOs, it's just human nature.

I don't know what the ultimate answer is, but I think a first step is to erode the irrational taboo against the slightest questioning or criticism of church activities just because it's a church, and then raising the bar for what constitutes a legitimate tax exemption and establishing the principle that merely pushing a supernatural dogma is not by itself worthy of tax exempt status.

By the way, these principles apply equally to secular charities. CNN has in the past couple of years been systematically exposing charity after charity that collect millions of dollars only to spend 95% plus of that on administration and very little actually goes to their constituency, so that you have high muck-a-mucks in the organization living in palaces and driving luxury cars. We need to turn the light on the dark corners of the non-profit world without regard to their religious affiliations. We've grown, at least in the US, way to lax about them all. The irony is that CNN has not exposed any religiously-affiliated charities to my knowledge, and my guess is that they avoid those on purpose so as not to be accused of attacking religion, mom, and apple pie.
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:40 AM
 
12,376 posts, read 9,938,083 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollytree View Post
I think taxing churches would raise too many issues involving separation of church and state.

This is not in their defense, since their nonprofit status is often completely undeserved. The Catholic Church, to name one, holds billions in assets. The mega "Jimmy Swaggert" churches are obviously for profit institutions.

The problem is whether the state can or should determine which "religions" are legitimate.
They would not need to. Treat the exactly the same as any other non profit.
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:49 AM
 
Location: Vernon, British Columbia
3,020 posts, read 2,703,264 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
I suppose what We are saying is that giving to charity is not offset against paying tax on your car and even if you cam claim to have the tax offset, you still pay the tax. Charitable work should not in principle excuse one taxes.

In any case tax exemption is not because of charitable work done, but because they are religious organizations. Abolish the tax exemptions on the basis or religious privilege and we'll talk about charitable work as a separate issue.
I see that you are in the UK. I've been told that churches are not except in Europe. Is this true, or only in some countries?

The reason why taxing a church that does charitable work is bad for the tax payer is because the church will cut their charitable work before their overhead, which leaves the government to do the work, and as we know government cannot do the same work for even remotely the same cost.

What you conclude sense though. It might not make sense economically, but it does on principles.
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:54 AM
 
2,960 posts, read 6,816,082 times
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One point that people overlook is the pastor's housing allowance. My ex was a pastor and we refused on moral grounds to participate in this. Way back when, most churches owned a house or two located close to the church grounds where the pastor would live rent free. Most pastors were not paid well, so a rent free house was a nice perk. Fast forward to today and every church our family has been a part of no longer has a parsonage. Instead there is a section of the tax code that allows pastors to take a pastor's housing allowance. This allowance is not taxed and no FICA is taken out. So some pastors (not all) go to town on this because you can claim your mortgage, rent and all related household expenses. Knew some pastors that would tell you that they only made $40,000 a year but would not tell you that they also receive tax free another $25,000 in pastor's housing allowance.

If you want to tax churches this is the first place to start. I'm a believer, active in my church but this is something that needs to be taken a look at.
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Old 08-29-2013, 03:39 PM
 
39,260 posts, read 10,922,331 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollytree View Post
I think taxing churches would raise too many issues involving separation of church and state.

This is not in their defense, since their nonprofit status is often completely undeserved. The Catholic Church, to name one, holds billions in assets. The mega "Jimmy Swaggert" churches are obviously for profit institutions.

The problem is whether the state can or should determine which "religions" are legitimate.
Good point. Mind, I don't think that other tax -paying bodies thereby get to cross the line to involvement in the administration. They do have clout of course, because they are rich, not because they pay tax, just as Churches have cloud in the Admin, but not because they don't pay tax.

So I don't see straight away that paying their doos would cross the State/Church separation line.
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Old 08-29-2013, 03:43 PM
 
39,260 posts, read 10,922,331 times
Reputation: 5102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glacierx View Post
I see that you are in the UK. I've been told that churches are not except in Europe. Is this true, or only in some countries?

The reason why taxing a church that does charitable work is bad for the tax payer is because the church will cut their charitable work before their overhead, which leaves the government to do the work, and as we know government cannot do the same work for even remotely the same cost.

What you conclude sense though. It might not make sense economically, but it does on principles.
I believe churches are tax exempt here too. All recognized religions are. The attempts to get business to cough up a decent amount of tax was met with the same objection you made - they would stiff the poor and needy so there. We didn't buy it for a minute and we don't respond well to moral blackmail in the UK.
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