Here’s an interesting article about taxes and churches.
This is the gist if you don’t have time to read: “The deductibility of donations to religious organizations creates a discriminatory religious subsidy. One is free to donate to the religion of one’s choice, but government support of these donations burdens every American, even the non-religious, with support for the faith industry.”
Here’s one way of looking at it. Churches are businesses, too, and they have financial goals, special interests and goods that are exchanged, albeit intangible. When you give money to a church, you are receiving a few things: hope, community, inspiration, motivation, a moral structure, a “spiritual home,” forgiveness, life coaching.
The rest of us have to pay for these services from secular businesses. So should a preference for belief in a god allow some taxpayers to deduct their payments (donations)? Nonbelievers, no doubt, would like to deduct the cost of their yoga classes, therapists, marriage counselors, personal coaches and club memberships.
Sure, some monies donated to churches do eventually go to charities, but the bulk of the income received from the community is used to support the
club church and “grow God’s kingdom.” A really big question comes to mind: why does God need petty solicitors if he’s omnipotent, all-powerful, all-knowing and other-worldly? Why does he even need money to spread his word? Doesn’t it make sense that if there’s one true god who created man, we’d be preprogrammed to know exactly who or what god is just as we’ve been preloaded with all this other software, such as how to smile, when to sleep and what hunger and fear mean? Wouldn’t there be consensus?
I know. I digress. But the point is, the business of church is just that. A business. They help people “spiritually,” yet they receive payment (call them tips, if you must) for their services, and they should not receive special tax consideration.
Unlike you and me and many of our local businesses who have to pay taxes on our income and taxes on the property we own, churches do not. Aren’t megachurches and millionaire preachers reason enough to change our laws? This special treatment has allowed some of God’s head salespeople to reap huge rewards. (Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Kenneth Copeland, etc, etc.) Imagine what sort of soup kitchens they could run if only they lived in modest homes and drove modest cars.
And one more thing–churches that spread prejudice rather than the Christian values they supposedly subscribe to (ahem, Westboro) should not only pay taxes, but also a penalty. The rest of us don’t want to subsidize hatred and, in fact, would like to discourage it. Preachers who abuse their power should be required to tithe 50% of their earnings to a fund that promotes humanism.
To make a long story short, I sure hope the tax code is reformed so that we (all) don’t continue to subsidize the preference to believe in God.