Thursday, May 24, 2007

Churches should be taxed

Really, what is the rationale for not taxing Churches? Or religious places in general? I know it started out as a concern that government would use the power of taxation to discriminate against a sect or shut it down. That's because it was done widely in Europe. But that really is an argument against uneven or unfair taxation, not any taxation at all.

Now, being a libertarian, I'm not exactly a huge fan of taxes. But being an atheist, I'm an even smaller fan of all of the privileges given to religion in this nation. Real privileges, like freedom from taxes, being the primary one, though there are some other perks, like not being allowed to say bad things about someone who has the name 'reverend' or other nonsense titles, or even worse, those with the title are allowed to say all sorts of hateful things without being held to account (like Jerry Falwell).

But really, what would be so bad about making a church pay taxes the same as all other property owners in a community? If they don't, well, then they get a benefit over all other property owners - they get all the services of the community without having to pay the admission price. They are, in fact, a drain on a communities' resources. I know the howls of protest that come with such a suggestion. Probably the first protest is that a church would not be able to survive in a community because the taxes would be more than the income from the members. But then, I think that in itself says something - after all, if the members of a church can't afford to pay for its existence, why should it exist based on the subsidy of MY tax money? Thus, only the churches that TRULY have community support (in the form of tithing members) will surivive. I know the next howl of protest. What about poor neighborhood churches? But economics takes care of that as well. Poor areas have relatively poor property values and so would pay much less in taxes. Thus, it would be progressive, in a sense. A rich neighborhood would have really rich property taxes, but then, the members of the church would also be rich, so they could afford to support the church there.

So I say, tax the churches. It isn't discrimination to make churches pay the same taxes every other good citizen has to pay (and usually does). It is the price of admission for our communities. And hey, if the taxes are too much, well, perhaps that shows the community really doesn't support the church (since there aren't enough members to support it). Or you could really think outside the box and slash taxes across the board for everyone to make the churches more affordable that way. Just don't have my tax dollars subsidizing all sorts of strange religions that I have no interest in and want no part of. At the very least, one would hope religious freedom would mean freedom from having your money support religions you do not.


Lost in Thought said...

I believe it has something to do churches being NPO.

Lunch Lady said...

I'm not a tax attorney or anything, but don't other organizations (like corporations, including non-profits) pay taxes on things OTHER than profits? There's franchise tax, excise tax, business license tax, privilege license tax, property tax, payroll tax.... Why shouldn't churches contribute?

Robert said...

Churches should count as NPO an be taxed in the same ways. If you think about it, churches are actually a pretty large drain on a communities resources; they often occupy prime real estate, they typically only offer community services 2 or 3 days a week, and they are everywhere.

If you took all the revenue that a community could have been collecting from a paying business I'm sure the number would be huge.

It would also eliminate the need to determine what is a religion, things would just be non-profit.

Maya's Granny said...

I'm for it. Churches need to be contributing members of the community, especially since some of them want to take over the government.

DBB said...

I wouldn't have a problem if they were treated like non-religious non-profits, though I agree, they are a huge drain on communities. I'd just rather that they pay their own way instead of taking money out of my pocket. I sure don't go to work to pay for people to brainwash others in religion.

Bing said...

I hear you. By removing the tax burden from religious organizations, the government promotes "religion." It burns my flammable parts to think about the size of some of the groups that benefit from social services and infrastructure and do not pay back in. But at least there are faith-based initiative grants that they can receive.

I'll be so peeved if the new Cincinnati Creation Museum of Endumbening Non-Science Fairy Tales gets a tax break. Seriously. I'll have kittens.

Like your site. Will be back.


DBB said...

Thanks Bing. Yes, our government does so many things to promote religion, and not only that, it promotes SPECIFIC religions, and that always gets my goat.

Sewgreen said...

Well generally churches are not for profit. There are of course exceptions, but you have that with everything.

I was just curious if someone would be able to show me info about churches getting money from the gov't?

And to everyone saying a church is a waste of space and they aren't used frequently - where do you live? Most churches I have seen can have activities weeklong, daycares (that don't require a religion to attend), etc.

DBB said...

Churches collect money - whether you want to call it "profit" is beside the point. Moreover, the government gives money to churchs, ostensibly for "secular" charitable activities, but the reality is that most churches don't give charity without some form of religious nonsense attached.

Personally, I still think churches need to be taxed - then if the community wants to support them by donating enough to pay the taxes, then the church can stay. Otherwise, it can make way for something that truly is supported by the community.