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Tax the Church

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  • Tax the Church

    My news feed popped up an article about should churches pay taxes. His trigger was apparently #TaxTheChurch has been trending on Twitter since mid July. He also seems biased for it to happen.

    Few random thoughts:

    I can't come up with a Bible passage that says a church shouldn't pay taxes if the government requires it.

    This would certainly be hard one churches struggling to survive financially. It probably would cause a wave of closings. On the other hand, I think a lot of them would probably fail anyways.

    I think under equal protection laws, you couldn't do this to just Christian churches. I think you would have to remove taxes on all religious groups.

    If a church is viewed as a group people with a common purpose, how is that different from a group like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.? They might get swept into this. This could end up becoming a removal of all tax exemptions.

    Frankly at this time, I don't see enough political will to start taxing churches.

    Article here: https://theconversation.com/amid-cal...-taxman-164988
    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

    "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

  • #2
    The bigger prize is the ministerial housing allowance. There have been many attempts to eliminate the IRS provision that allows ministers to declare their housing costs as tax exempt income.

    If a minister gets paid $80,000 salary from a church, for example, he can declare a housing exemption of, say, $30,000 (there are forumlas for determining the allowable amount), making his taxable income $50,000.

    That's the main target.
    The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
      I can't come up with a Bible passage that says a church shouldn't pay taxes if the government requires it.
      Any arguments that were marshalled in that manner could probably be used to argue that people in general shouldn't pay taxes, which the Bible is perfectly clear about but which a number of Christians (like Kent Hovind at one point) still seem to see as less than clear.
      "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
        My news feed popped up an article about should churches pay taxes. His trigger was apparently #TaxTheChurch has been trending on Twitter since mid July. He also seems biased for it to happen.

        Few random thoughts:

        I can't come up with a Bible passage that says a church shouldn't pay taxes if the government requires it.

        This would certainly be hard one churches struggling to survive financially. It probably would cause a wave of closings. On the other hand, I think a lot of them would probably fail anyways.

        I think under equal protection laws, you couldn't do this to just Christian churches. I think you would have to remove taxes on all religious groups.

        If a church is viewed as a group people with a common purpose, how is that different from a group like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.? They might get swept into this. This could end up becoming a removal of all tax exemptions.

        Frankly at this time, I don't see enough political will to start taxing churches.

        Article here: https://theconversation.com/amid-cal...-taxman-164988
        The fish that Jesus told Peter to catch (probably the only time in the bible Peter fished without a net) was to produce the coin to pay the taxes for Jesus and Peter.

        Interesting passage, that! It wasn't the Roman tax, but the Temple tax, and it was only expected of men of military service age in the OT.

        Makes you wonder if maybe the rest of the disciples were not yet military age.

        (just throwing some stuff out there over which others can grapple)
        The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

        Comment


        • #5
          If they tried to remove the tax exempt status from the Church, they would most likely have to remove it from all non-profit organizations too.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Sparko View Post
            If they tried to remove the tax exempt status from the Church, they would most likely have to remove it from all non-profit organizations too.
            I'm having trouble seeing how they could do just the church without other non-profits as well. At a minimum, they would have to strip it from all religious organizations.

            I have seen a couple hints at non-profit reform. We may yet see this happen under that guise.
            "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

            "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Sparko View Post
              If they tried to remove the tax exempt status from the Church, they would most likely have to remove it from all non-profit organizations too.
              Unfortunately, many churches have acted like non-profit BUSINESSES, which gives good argument to those who want to do away with all tax-exempt status.
              The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

                I'm having trouble seeing how they could do just the church without other non-profits as well. At a minimum, they would have to strip it from all religious organizations.

                I have seen a couple hints at non-profit reform. We may yet see this happen under that guise.
                One of the problems is that you have MILLIONAIRES as CEO of some of our "Churches" - and the tax exempt status was never intended to feed large sums of money to celebrities. That hurts the churches that are actually preaching the word and ministering to their communities.
                The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                  One of the problems is that you have MILLIONAIRES as CEO of some of our "Churches" - and the tax exempt status was never intended to feed large sums of money to celebrities. That hurts the churches that are actually preaching the word and ministering to their communities.
                  Agreed. A friend of mine told me a story about a pastor he know who got out of ministry because he couldn't make enough money.

                  I think are some good business principals (budgeting, clear roles and responsibilities, oversight, etc.) that should employed while running a church. However the church should not be a business.
                  "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                  "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                    Unfortunately, many churches have acted like non-profit BUSINESSES, which gives good argument to those who want to do away with all tax-exempt status.
                    I would add the para-church ministries are probably even worse in this regard.
                    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                    "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

                      Agreed. A friend of mine told me a story about a pastor he know who got out of ministry because he couldn't make enough money.

                      I think are some good business principals (budgeting, clear roles and responsibilities, oversight, etc.) that should employed while running a church. However the church should not be a business.
                      Funny you should say that, because in Church Budget meetings over the years, it's amazing how, when given an option for a ministry or something, somebody would say "but we're not a business - we can't run like a business", but when you're talking about staff raises or salaries, "well, you know, all the businesses are having to cut back on wage increases....."

                      Are we a business, or not!
                      The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

                        I would add the para-church ministries are probably even worse in this regard.
                        Yes, but I've heard over and over that you can't really do the ministries without the fundraising, and that always takes a big name celebrity or a well-paid executive....
                        The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                          Funny you should say that, because in Church Budget meetings over the years, it's amazing how, when given an option for a ministry or something, somebody would say "but we're not a business - we can't run like a business", but when you're talking about staff raises or salaries, "well, you know, all the businesses are having to cut back on wage increases....."

                          Are we a business, or not!
                          And if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

                          Unfortunately, the answer is yes and no. Legally, a church is a business with all those requirements. As long as we have churches with buildings (or rented space) and paid staff, a church will have to run at least partially as a business. I won't say a house church is better but it would lack some of these worldly distractions to deal with. A church should set aside the business mentality to fulfill the commandments of Christ. Unfortunately as we're discussing, a church (or its leadership) starts viewing itself as a business and can't get out of the mode.

                          Side note: I remember watching the really old (circa 1975) Left Behind videos. They had a scene in a church where the Sunday service was more like a business meeting. Maybe prophetic?

                          I think your question is something every church (or at least the leadership) needs to review and discuss. Not sure you can get to an answer...
                          "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                          "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

                            And if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

                            Unfortunately, the answer is yes and no. Legally, a church is a business with all those requirements. As long as we have churches with buildings (or rented space) and paid staff, a church will have to run at least partially as a business. I won't say a house church is better but it would lack some of these worldly distractions to deal with. A church should set aside the business mentality to fulfill the commandments of Christ. Unfortunately as we're discussing, a church (or its leadership) starts viewing itself as a business and can't get out of the mode.

                            Side note: I remember watching the really old (circa 1975) Left Behind videos. They had a scene in a church where the Sunday service was more like a business meeting. Maybe prophetic?

                            I think your question is something every church (or at least the leadership) needs to review and discuss. Not sure you can get to an answer...
                            I always answer, "as long as, like Jesus, we are about our Father's business...."
                            The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

                              Frankly at this time, I don't see enough political will to start taxing churches.

                              https://theconversation.com/amid-cal...-taxman-164988
                              There's certainly not at this point, but then just twenty years ago, the idea that society would as a whole accept gay marriage within a matter of years seemed laughable, too. In our outrage, "do something about this now" culture, I could see the political will creating itself after just one or two bad scandals involving megachurches or televangelists.
                              "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                              Comment

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