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Thu Oct 25, 2012, 09:26 AM

 

The Yearly Cost of Religious Tax Exemptions: $71,000,000,000

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/06/16/the-yearly-cost-of-religious-tax-exemptions-71000000000/

The Yearly Cost of Religious Tax Exemptions: $71,000,000,000

We know churches get tax exemptions, but how much money does that actually come out to?

University of Tampa professor Ryan T. Cragun along with students Stephanie Yeager and Desmond Vega ran some calculations and figured out a number:

While some people may be bothered by the fact that there are pastors who live in multimillion dollar homes, this is old news to most. But here is what should bother you about these expensive homes: You are helping to pay for them! You pay for them indirectly, the same way local, state, and federal governments in the United States subsidize religion — to the tune of about $71 billion every year.


So… chump change.

Their article (with a defense of how they calculated the amount) appears in the June/July 2012 issue of Free Inquiry.

“The issue of religious tax preferment is especially relevant now because the number of Americans living outside any religious tradition continues to grow,” said Tom Flynn, Free Inquiry’s editor. “That underscores the unfairness of taxing all Americans to subsidize religious institutions that only some Americans utilize.”


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Reply The Yearly Cost of Religious Tax Exemptions: $71,000,000,000 (Original post)
Kindly Refrain Oct 2012 OP
xchrom Oct 2012 #1
porphyrian Oct 2012 #2
RainDog Oct 2012 #3
nichomachus Oct 2012 #4
Generic Other Oct 2012 #5
txdemsftw Oct 2012 #6
WhaTHellsgoingonhere Oct 2012 #7
sharkman25 Oct 2012 #8
LondonReign2 Oct 2012 #21
LineLineLineReply .
sharkman25 Oct 2012 #27
D23MIURG23 Oct 2012 #30
D23MIURG23 Oct 2012 #29
Arugula Latte Oct 2012 #9
hifiguy Oct 2012 #10
Initech Oct 2012 #17
badtoworse Oct 2012 #11
cthulu2016 Oct 2012 #12
hifiguy Oct 2012 #19
SomethingFishy Oct 2012 #14
txdemsftw Oct 2012 #16
Initech Oct 2012 #22
Initech Oct 2012 #20
Union Scribe Oct 2012 #33
yellowsubmarine Oct 2012 #26
Selatius Oct 2012 #37
LondonReign2 Oct 2012 #23
Autumn Oct 2012 #13
sarcasmo Oct 2012 #35
fifthoffive Oct 2012 #15
StarryNite Oct 2012 #18
LondonReign2 Oct 2012 #24
libtodeath Oct 2012 #25
Union Scribe Oct 2012 #32
rug Oct 2012 #28
kentauros Oct 2012 #38
Union Scribe Oct 2012 #31
sarcasmo Oct 2012 #34
SmileyRose Oct 2012 #36

Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 09:55 AM

1. Du rec. Nt

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 09:57 AM

2. . n/t

 

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 09:57 AM

3. k&r n/t

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 09:59 AM

4. We should let the market decide

Make churches pay taxes. If a church can't pay its taxes, then it will have to close. That will be "God's will" and the market's decision.

Around here, a new wacko "church" opens about every week. If they had to pay taxes, they'd think twice.

They'd also have less money to spend on getting involved in politics.

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 10:02 AM

5. And they should lose this "tax exempt" status

Like the Catholic church can't afford to pay their share of taxes.

Like the Phelps' family of Westboro Baptist deserve to pay nothing in taxes.

Like Rev. Moon and the enslaved Moonies should have been allowed to exploit armies of worshippers and pay nothing in taxes.

Like the Mormons deserve to suck up other Americans' tax monies to provide social services for quiverful families while paying no taxes themselves.

Sorry, but leeches are leeches.

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 10:05 AM

6. Sickening...

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 10:05 AM

7. time to start a petition, FB page, etc..

 

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 10:17 AM

8. That's not just church's but other religious based organizations that do a lot for the poor.

 

The church I attend regulary helps a lot of people and if the money we recieved were taxed would have significantly less financial resources to serve the poor and needy. This is true of other church's and organizations as well. We've helped people with gas, food, electrical bills, moving expenses, etc. Some of these people are already on govt. assistance so we're helping them with the difference in their need. Do you want us to have less to operate with?

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Response to sharkman25 (Reply #8)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:06 PM

21. So what?

If the money I receive *weren't* taxed, I would have more financial resources to serve the poor and needy. Do you want me to have less to operate with?

Do you want the government to have less to opertae with? The help the poor pretty significantly.

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Response to LondonReign2 (Reply #21)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 06:49 PM

27. .

 

Last edited Thu Oct 25, 2012, 10:52 PM - Edit history (1)

Your post reeks of incoherence.

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Response to sharkman25 (Reply #27)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 11:15 PM

30. Not really.

Its a coherent position that churches who don't necessarily need to help the poor in order to be tax exempt do less good than the government, which has programs specifically enacted to help the poor. Its a reasonable to use that position to argue that the tax money from religious organizations would be put to better use operating medicade.

By contrast it doesn't follow that because some churches view themselves as part time charities, all of their activities should be tax exempt. The teaching and spread of religion are not necessarily a helpful practice, and profit made in the practice of religion is not different from profit made in other capacities. Religions in the US are given a special privilege which they haven't earned or justified, and IMO it should be revoked.

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Response to sharkman25 (Reply #8)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 11:06 PM

29. Non-profit organizations can qualify for tax exemption whether they are religious or not.

If your church is not a non-profit, then yes I do want you to have less to operate with, because I think those good deeds you are talking about are more of an afterthought than the actual mission of your church. If your church isn't non-profit then its mission is to make money for someone, and by that I don't mean the downtrodden.

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 10:39 AM

9. Disgusting!!!

 

This just makes me sick.

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 10:44 AM

10. "Tax the churches. Tax the businesses owned

 

by the churches." - Frank Zappa

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #10)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 12:56 PM

17. Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side...

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 11:44 AM

11. The churches are protected by the 1st Amendment

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Taxing churches would potentially violate the clause "...or prohibitimg the free exercise thereof" part of the amendment and would most likely not survive a constitutional challenge (especially in the SCOTUS we have now).

The founding fathers put that language in there for a reason: The power to tax is the power to destroy and they did not want the government to have that power. They were wise men.

By the same logic, the $71,000,000,000 is not a cost to the government. You can only make that statement if the government had a legitimate claim to that revenue. Absent the power to tax it, there is no claim to the money and no basis for calling it a cost to the government.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #11)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 11:59 AM

12. No, general taxation has no free exercise implications

Last edited Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:00 PM - Edit history (1)

Any law of general application that was not passed for the purpose of disadvantaging religion does not constitute an unconstitutional infringement of free exercise.

(Antonin Scalia, in the landmark ruling that drug laws trump the fact that some native American religions use peyote or mescaline.)

Saying that priests cannot drive drunk on communion wine is not an infringement of free exercise, it is a law against drunk driving that applies to everyone and was not designed to hassle Catholics in particular.

If owners of property generally pay taxes on their property then taxation of church property has no 1st Amendment implications.

If owners of property generally pay taxes on their property but churches are exempt from that tax, however, it is a facial violation of the 1st Amendment establishment clause.

American non-taxation of churches was not part of our constitutional system, it was a continuation of medieval European practice. (If it arose from the 1st Amendment then it would have been peculiar to America in 1800, but the opposite was true.)

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #12)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 12:58 PM

19. Yep. Excellent analysis cthulu.

 

Tax exemption is a privilege, not a constitutional right. Not one thing in the Constitution prohibits the taxation of churches.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #11)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 12:08 PM

14. The "Founding Fathers"

had no idea the churches would have the kind of influence they do. Yes they put that language in for a reason, they also created the document to be living, breathing and changeable.

Do you think the Founding Fathers ever heard of a "Mega Church"? Did they envision churches affiliating themselves with political parties? The whole point was to keep religion and politics separate. Now that there is very little separation and churches are endorsing candidates and policies I think it's time to revisit the tax laws.

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Response to SomethingFishy (Reply #14)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 12:12 PM

16. YES!

WHY do they get to build these Mega churches that look more like stadiums, college campuses, and 5-star hotels and get off tax free??? WHY do they get away with this crap?

Here in my neck of the woods, we have these stupid mega churches on every other damn street corner, and it is really sickening. The amount of money PROFITED off these compounds is nothing short of ridiculous!

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Response to txdemsftw (Reply #16)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:09 PM

22. Where I live we have a church that purchased an old Boeing facility.

The cost - $23 million.

And the church said they were planning an additional $20 million in improvements!!!

I'm thinking how does a church have this much money and why aren't they being taxed on it?











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Response to SomethingFishy (Reply #14)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:05 PM

20. Our founding fathers *HATED* religious extremists.

Their heads would probably explode at the thought of not only religious institutions getting tax exempt status - but with that much money at stake...

And then you add those preachers who are intentionally trying to provoke the IRS - this is making a bad situation even worse.

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Response to Initech (Reply #20)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 11:23 PM

33. Our founding fathers didn't have much room to talk. nt

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Response to SomethingFishy (Reply #14)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:33 PM

26. distinctions need to be made between different church activities

Churches have always had the kind of influence they do now. They have affiliated themselves with political parties for as long as political parties have existed. Separation of church and state has always been a struggle.

What IS different is that churches used to fully fund and operate many hospitals, homeless shelters, orphanages, etc. In small communities, they were often the only place to turn in times of hardship. Sure, they should get tax exemption for those things. They shouldn't get tax breaks for proselytizing, indoctrinating and overseas conversion "missions."

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Response to SomethingFishy (Reply #14)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 12:20 AM

37. Incidentally, several of the Founders opposed the creation of political parties as well.

Yet, here they are. A lot of things have changed in over two centuries.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #11)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:10 PM

23. That's as silly as saying

I shouldn't be taxed because it impinges on my right to the pursuit of happiness.

And no, the $71B is not a "cost" to government, I agree...rather, it is lost revenue

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 12:06 PM

13. Tax them. They use tax payer service and they are influencing politics.

It's time.

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Response to Autumn (Reply #13)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 12:15 AM

35. +1

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 12:12 PM

15. I've always wondered

Why should my neighbor should get a tax break for donating to his church? He donates to his church, the church gets a new recreation center, just for its members. He donates to the church and the choir gets a new sound system. He donates to the church, and the sanctuary gets air conditioning.

Why should any of those things be tax-exempt?

If a church collects donations that go directly to helping people in the community who are in need, that may be reasonably tax-exempt, but to make all donations to churches tax-exempt does not make sense.

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 12:58 PM

18. Jesus!

Take those exemptions away! Seriously, that is crap!

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:14 PM

24. I fully agree we should tax churches

However, I believe churches are exempt from taxes because they are non-profit organizations (yeah, right!), not because they are religious institutions per se. How do we separate them from, for example, a cancer charity or environmental organization?

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:18 PM

25. They use all the same local services such as roads and fire protection

so despite believing in fairy tales they should help pay for those services.

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Response to libtodeath (Reply #25)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 11:21 PM

32. By that...er, "logic," there wouldn't be any tax exempt groups period.

You get that right? I mean do you see past your prejudices to figure out the consequences of what you're saying?

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 06:57 PM

28. Hell, we could build three aircraft carriers with that.

 

Or 3,000 predator drones.

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Response to rug (Reply #28)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 12:33 AM

38. Excellent point!

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 11:20 PM

31. Have you delivered your righteous beatdown of those students yet?

Lol.

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 12:14 AM

34. Tax the church.

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Response to Kindly Refrain (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 12:20 AM

36. How much of that is just the Mormon and Catholic Churches?

I've said all along make them pay the same taxes as individuals and let them deduct charitable expenditures. And the for profit businesses some churches own they should follow the whatever rules corporations follow.

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