What If ... Churches Were Not Tax Exempt?
By Susan Banner Todd on August 28, 2012
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If I were to suggest that in order to pay off the national debt, it would be as simple as asking the 450,000 religious churches to start paying taxes, what would you say?
Religious organizations are exempt from certain taxes. They are not required by law to pay federal, state, or local taxes on property if it is a church, synagogue, kingdom hall, fellowship hall, or a parsonage, to list only a few. If and/or when a member makes a contribution to the church, that income would not be taxed. When I was a little kid, we went around offering the Watchtower and Awake on a contribution basis to cover the cost of printing. True, we only asked for a dime, but when we picked up our weekly allotment at the Kingdom Hall, we paid 3 cents per copy. You don’t have to be a CPA to know that is a seven-cent return. An old boyfriend of mine paid $40.00 per week religiously to his church every Sunday. I certainly can see that contributions are needed to keep a church running, and I really don’t find that inappropriate. However, 90% of the sermons preached at his church revolved around money. Glowing accounts streaming forth from members who had given "extra" and how blessed they were. I’d sit there dutifully by his side and calculate all the contributions flowing in that were tax-exempt. My guy would leave so stressed because he couldn’t afford to pay more on his limited income.
In all fairness, salaries paid to pastors are taxable unless they belong to an order that has taken a "vow of poverty." That income belongs to the order and is not taxable by anyone. Of course, the tax laws are far more complicated, so I am only addressing a small part in this blog.
I ask you to consider the following: There are an estimated 1.1 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States contributing. The Mormon Church has 13,470 congregations in the United States. These are only two of the many religious organizations in this country.
What if ... churches were NOT tax-exempt?
Susan Banner Todd
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