Time to remove a church's tax exempt status!

@speakeasy (4215)
United States
July 12, 2008 6:55pm CST
Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against giving a religous organization tax exempt status and staying out of how they teach and practice their religion as long as they stay out of the state/country's business (politics). Our country gives away trillions of dollars every year by not taxing religious organizations. Churchs SHOULD be places for anyone to worship, marry, receive aid and guidance, etc. But, when churches step over the line into politics; and, church leaders/ministers/priests are "preparing for a march" to influence government laws and policies, they have voluntarily crossed the political line. That is exactly what is going on at this Roman Catholic church and other nearby churches. If they want to get into the political arena; they should give up their tax exempt status or have it stripped from them. Here is a link with more details - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/12/us/12religion.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5087&em&en=14035d2857849b13&ex=1216008000 I have no problem with most of what they are doing - giving aid to people who are confused and scared; but, banding together with other religious leaders to prepare for a march; goes outside of a churches boundaries and has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with trying to influence laws that are not EVEN about religion.
3 people like this
9 responses
@bluespace (132)
• Canada
13 Jul 08
Unless charitable events happen regularly they should pay tax if any one person makes more than enough to live on say 50,000 -60,000 through religion then they should be taxed
• Canada
13 Jul 08
actually i'm going to revise that, if you make any amount through religion it should be taxed, Artists are taxed they generally don't make much so why shouldn't the priests and ministers?
@speakeasy (4215)
• United States
14 Jul 08
I am not certain whether specific religious "persons" are required to pay tax or not; BUT, I have heard that many of them "shelter" their incomes by donating it to the "church, a separate non-profit entity" and then the "non-profit entity" takes care of their needs and expenses so they technically earn no money. Also, we are not just talking income tax. These religious organizations own extensive, valuable property and pay no property tax either. Even a small church in the middle of a small city owns land and buildings worth a large sum of money adn that property is not taxed even though they have the full benefit of all of services in their area.
@Latrivia (2889)
• United States
14 Jul 08
When it comes to tax-exempt organizations, tax isn't a matter of how much you make - but where the money comes from and how it's spent.
• Philippines
13 Jul 08
Is that international?
@speakeasy (4215)
• United States
14 Jul 08
I know it is true in the US; I do not know how other countries handle this issue. Maybe some other mylot members will speak up about their own countries.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
14 Jul 08
As just read this to your discussions. i still don't hear it with any churches. i don't if i'm really updated or out of news? hehe but hope that they don't do that with all the churches that's not really good.
@Latrivia (2889)
• United States
13 Jul 08
Below is a summary of protocol for a tax exempt organization to be involved in politics. As far as I can tell, so long as they are not helping the campaign for a political candidate, their behavior is acceptable. A tax-exempt organization is not barred outright from politics, but activity in the voting process is. "§ 501(c)(3) organization may not engage in carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities. Whether an organization has attempted to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities is determined based upon all relevant facts and circumstances. However, most § 501(c)(3) organizations may use Form 5768, Election/Revocation of Election by an Eligible Section 501(c)(3) Organization to Make Expenditures to Influence Legislation, to make an election under § 501(h) to be subject to an objectively measured expenditure test with respect to lobbying activities rather than the less precise "substantial activity" test. Electing organizations are subject to tax on lobbying activities that exceed a specified percentage of their exempt function expenditures. For further information regarding lobbying activities by charities, download Lobbying Issues. For purposes of § 501(c)(3), legislative activities and political activities are two different things, and are subject to two different sets of rules. The latter is an absolute bar. A § 501(c)(3) organization may not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office. Whether an organization is engaging in prohibited political campaign activity depends upon all the facts and circumstances in each case. For example, organizations may sponsor debates or forums to educate voters. But if the forum or debate shows a preference for or against a certain candidate, it becomes a prohibited activity. The motivation of an organization is not relevant in determining whether the political campaign prohibition has been violated. Activities that encourage people to vote for or against a particular candidate, even on the basis of non-partisan criteria, violate the political campaign prohibition of § 501(c)(3). See the FY-2002 CPE topic entitled Election Year Issues for further information regarding political activities of charities. "
@speakeasy (4215)
• United States
14 Jul 08
Perhaps my choice of words is a little "off". "§ 501(c)(3) organization may not engage in carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities." In my opinion - that is "politics". Organizing and participating in rallies is time consuming (that is why several churches have banded together to do this) and it is definately an attempt so "influence legislation".
@Latrivia (2889)
• United States
14 Jul 08
"§ 501(c)(3) organization may not engage in carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities." In my opinion - that is "politics". Organizing and participating in rallies is time consuming (that is why several churches have banded together to do this) and it is definately an attempt so "influence legislation". Well your opinion of what politics are is fine, but the law isn't laying out the rules according to your opinion. A tax exempt organization may lobby and take part in demonstrations, if given the proper documentation. They are only strictly prohibited from aiding in political campaigns, and so long as most of their un-taxed income isn't used in legislative activities, they are well within their bounds to protest.
• United States
13 Jul 08
You know I couldn't agree with you more. I'm really sick and tired of churches all being up in arms about everything that they hate, but still wanting to be tax free. What happened to separation of church and state? After all, they're sticking their noses in places it does not belong. Religion and state are supposed to be separate. However it they really want to cross that line and start trying to enact certain laws because of their religion, then they need to pay the price.
@speakeasy (4215)
• United States
13 Jul 08
I agree. If something is for or against their religion; they can teach that and they can preach about it all they want; but, if they start endorsing or non-endorsing specific candidates, organizing and participating in political marches and rallies; they have definately crossed the line and should start paying thier taxes like everyone eles. If they ALL were paying taxes, we wouldn't have a budget that is so far in debt and we would have plenty of money to pay for Social Security, healthcare, better schools, etc. Of course, then they would all be getting involved in politics and I would rather they did not do that!
• United States
13 Jul 08
I agree. There are quite a few churches that are becoming quite political when it's clear that isn't supposed to occur but no one touches the churches that do become political and I think it's time they do. More funding would definitely help our country. I'm sure it would really tick off a lot of people, but remember, it's called separation of church and state and that's not been happening lately. I'm offended that it's not when that's how our country was made and founded. I'd really love it if they kept their noses out of business that obviously doesn't concern them but it's definitely not going that way.
@shlooper (309)
• United States
14 Jul 08
I also agree. As I was sitting through church today being told how I should vote and how our country should be run, one thought went through my mind. "How in the world are we still tax exempt?" With religions officially endorsing candidates and sending out letters telling people how to vote, I agree, they should lose their tax exempt status. It is unnecessary, and immoral, to tell your congregation how to vote and hold their salvation on the line in return.
@speakeasy (4215)
• United States
14 Jul 08
Send that letter in to the IRS; they will look into the matter. Not only is it "unnecessary, and immoral, to tell your congregation how to vote and hold their salvation on the line in return"; it is demeaning. They are telling all of you that you are too stupid to think for yourselves and make a good decision. Personally, I would be looking for another place to worship.
13 Jul 08
Hello speakeasy, I think the churches should stay out of politics and keep to what they are there for. I brought up as chatholic but Have broke away from all that.I have lost faith in all the churches, they interfer with politics which have nothing to do with them. Tamarafireheart.
@speakeasy (4215)
• United States
14 Jul 08
I understand. My husband was raised Roman Catholic; but, over the years he has also lost faith in his church. He still believes the basic "truths" he grew up with; but, he will not have anything to do with the organized Church of this or any other branch of Christianity. I was raised Baptist; but, due to the politics and hypocrasy I am no longer affiliated with them or any organized religion. I follow my own beliefs to the best of my ability.
@laglen (19782)
• United States
13 Jul 08
That is a tricky issue. Some issues pertain to the church and so there fore should speak up! Also issues that affect their congregation. Or when they have to do with moral issues, like abortion, gay marriage etc.
@speakeasy (4215)
• United States
14 Jul 08
I have no problem with them teaching their congregation what they believe on any of these issues or with them having discussion groups to try to apply centuries old scriptures to today's modern problems. The problems is when they start endorsing or coming out against specific candidates, laws, etc. So, if church leaders want to say that abortion is bad or good or good in some cases - that is fine. But, if they tell their members to vote or not vote for specifc candidates or to try to influence political leaders on specific issues, that is going too far. If their members agree with the church doctrine on this topic (or others); the church leaders should be able to allow their members to decide for themselves who to vote for or against. The same is true of rallies, protest marches, letter writing campaigns, etc.. The church should not be organizing these and telling members they need to participate. Not only are they crossing over the boundary between church and state; they are actually telling their members that the members are too "dumb/stupid" to make a good decision by themselves.
@chiyosan (29383)
• Philippines
13 Jul 08
well i think they should start helping other people by paying their tax too. everyone's got to make a sacrifice.
@speakeasy (4215)
• United States
14 Jul 08
Most, not all, do give away a lot of their money to help others who are less fortunate - in my town alone, religious organizations operate soup kitchens, food banks, assist people with rent and/or utility payments, etc. IF these organizations had to pay taxes on top of that they would not be able to give away as much as they do. THAT means that government agencies would have to use those same tax dollars to pick up the slack and help these people: AND, we all know that government agencies have never been an efficient means of locating people in need and getting them the assistance they need in a fast efficient manner. As long as they stay out of politics, I do not mind letting them have tax-exempt status.
• United States
13 Jul 08
I have to agree with you. I couldn't help but wonder why Rev. Wright's sermon was so political. I don't think I could stay at a church that tried so hard to influence my vote. I think that even some churches that are not active in the political arena that make more than a certain amount should have to pay at least 10% to our government. Some of these churches make thousands and thousands, why can't they tithe our government?
@speakeasy (4215)
• United States
13 Jul 08
As I said , I have no problem with them teaching thier religion in their places of worship. If they are for or against a specific action - abortion, adultery, donating to charity, etc. Fine. But, when they start targeting specific laws, bills, candidates, etc.; then, they have gone outside of their "jurisdiction" so to speak.