Church and Taxes...

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by iGary, May 5, 2009.

  1. iGary Guest

    iGary

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
    #1
    So I was commenting on a story in our local paper where some of our local politicians are forming an organization to "recruit Christians" and the church to get involved in local politics (Maryland).

    My response was that the church should pay taxes if they want to be involved in politics to which someone responded "you mean like ACORN - nice try."

    So where do we draw the line between political involvement and non-profits?
     
  2. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #2
    Politicians can recruit Christians all they want. There's no law against that. If the actual church is being used as a bully pulpit for a certain political party, that's when the line should be drawn.
     
  3. imac/cheese macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2007
    #3
    I agree.
     
  4. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #4
    Religion is so ingrained in our society that I think its hard for people to separate general morality and good from religion. I imagine if this was any other group the religious zealots would be having a fit (ie. if an atheist movement decided to start recruiting atheists to get into politics).
     
  5. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #5
    I don't care a bit about recruiting Christians into the political sphere. It's recruiting tax-exempt *churches* into the political sphere that I object to. And really, even that objection is only half-hearted. It's one thing for a preacher to talk about issues that dovetail with their beliefs, and it's quite another for a preacher (or church) to endorse specific candidates or ballot issues.

    IOW, go ahead and preach that homosexual marriage or abortion is a sin, just don't cross the line into saying "voting no on Prop 8 is a sin" or "voting for John Kerry is a sin". And don't go around selectively enforcing church doctrine to make a political point, for example advocating denial of communion to someone who supports abortion rights but not advocating denial of communion to someone who has been divorced (or eats shellfish, wears mixed fabrics, etc.).
     
  6. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #6
    Why don't churches pay taxes? They get the same services that everyone else must pay for, police, fire fighters, etc.
     
  7. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    #7
    I don't think politics truly play into this scenario, mostly because it seems to me that (religious) people view some "sins" as worse than others. Getting divorced has become a lesser sin as its frequency has increased. When my parents were divorced 15 years ago, my dad was asked not to attend that church anymore. Now, no one bats an eye at the fact that divorce is occurring in the exact same church with many of the exact same people still going there.

    It's any non-profit organization, of which churches are probably the majority, but they certainly are not the only one getting benefit of not paying taxes.
     
  8. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Location:
    On tenterhooks
    #8
    I believe they are in the clear on this, unless and until they start preaching politics from the pulpit.
     
  9. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #9
    I absolutely reject the notion that churches are not-for-profit.

    Allow churches a tax-free charitable account, i.e. for legitimate charity uses, but the rest is fair game, I say.

    The main objective of a church is not to help, rather it is to sell a product: heaven. Yes, many churches commit charitable acts, and money designated solely for such acts should be tax free, but other than that, churches should be taxed like any other business.
     
  10. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #10
    Thats a pretty good idea actually, make them prove their charitable contributions make up for their tax free status.
     
  11. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    #11
    Most of the money collected from churches (aside from funding charity work) goes to pay people who work for the church, who then pay income taxes. What is left goes to paying utility bills.

    With your reasoning, why should churches pay taxes and those running www.atheists.org should not?

    Note: I am not against the organization or those who run it. It is purely an example
     
  12. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #12
    So if most of their income goes to pay wages, how do they pay for all of the real estate that churches own? Some of that property is quite valuable after all. Why shouldn't they pay property taxes just like any other property owner? Property taxes tend to pay for things such as fire protection, road construction and maintenance, police protection and so forth. Churches use these services too so why shouldn't they help pay for them?
     
  13. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #13
    Most non-profits own (or rent) property, not just churches.
     
  14. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2001
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #14
    This is actually what distinguishes a church from other kinds of not-for-profit entities. Not only is a church exempt from taxation, but churches are uniquely exempt from reporting any of their financial dealings to the IRS in the way a normal 503(c) organization must.
     
  15. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    #15
    What about universities, some hospitals and other institutions? They would all need to pay property taxes. Especially properties owned by many universities is extremely valuable and the taxes would be enormous.
     
  16. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #16
    In some states they do have to pay it. That is a state issue not a federal.

    A good point as well.
     
  17. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #17
    if these private institutions are building wealth and aren't directing that wealth towards the community good, then perhaps they should help pay for the services they consume
     
  18. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    #18
    Of course, but how many are amassing wealth? If they do, it should be investigated and their "not-for-profit" status revoked.
     
  19. Sehnsucht macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    #19
    Reminds me of the snake-oil peddler Benny Hinn, who got his ass chewed big time for taking his audiences on guilt-trips about donating money "for the poor starving African children", and then going on big religious tours and staying in luxury hotels that ran $3,000+ per night. These nutty televangelists always play the "poor starving African children" card so their clueless followers will give them money, which they then spend on huge mansions and cruises and other taxable expenditures. It makes me want to puke. :mad:
     
  20. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    #20
    Again, I completely agree, though for every Benny Hinn in the world, there are thousands of institutions that are not thieving imbeciles.
     
  21. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #21
    well who knows how many.....you're in the Los Angeles area, plus I'm under the impression you're an architect or studied architecture, so perhaps you'll be familiar with some of these potential examples;

    1. The Rand Corporation, owns and occupies a huge building complex in downtown Santa Monica (ocean views from some offices!)

    2. The Getty, occupies a substantial property located in one of Los Angeles's most desirable areas, plus they have their other location in Malibu!

    3. The Skirball Museum and Cultural Center; just up the 405 from the Getty, (Mohse Sadie designed their main building)

    4. USC, a private university with a large endowment, it occupies a large and valuable site near downtown Los Angeles

    5. The Mormon Temple in Los Angeles, Century City adjacent which is prime real estate in our city

    so in your opinion, would any of these qualify as non-profits that are amassing wealth and should perhaps be helping to pay for the tax supported services they consume?
     
  22. NoSmokingBandit macrumors 68000

    NoSmokingBandit

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2008
    #22
    Most non-profit organizations dont pay the same taxes. A church is designed to work almost like a charity by means of community activities for the youth, helping the elderly, food/clothing drives, etc...
    Unfortunately most churches dont function the way they are designed so they get the lower taxes without having to do any actual non-profit work.
     
  23. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    #23
    Do you think USC or the Getty is in it for the money? Organizations such as these need incentive to even operate, especially in LA. If they had to pay property taxes, they would no longer be able to operate, which would be a determinate to our society, more than the loss of tax revenue.
     
  24. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #24
    in it for the money or not, they're clearly amassing wealth while consuming services paid for by other people's taxes........and the Getty indeed has such a huge endowment that it could easily pay property tax

    I think that perhaps one could make an argument that they do provide the community with a sufficient substitute for taxes though.....USC is as close to a pro football team as we have, and as for the Getty, well, where would you take visitors from out of town without the Getty?? :p
     
  25. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    #25
    That's where I take everyone that visits us down here!

    Seriously though, they are making money for different reasons than other companies like Apple, Microsoft etc... Their money comes mostly from donations and do a service for the community that would be unattainable without some kind of tax break. This is the fundamental reason we don't tax institutions like these.

    I would rather the Getty spend their money on acquiring new exhibits than spend donated money on paying taxes for the land they are sitting on.

    This goes for historical preservation as well. Preserving important historical buildings is important, but it is costly. To own a house that is on the registry of historic significance takes a lot of work and maintenance to keep them up and receive tax breaks in order to actually have someone who wants to do it out of their own pocket. Without that, preservation wouldn't take place.
     

Share This Page