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7 years ago  ::  Jan 15, 2008 - 1:16PM #21
Sholem
Posts: 344
Churches and religious organizations are exempt from federal income tax only so long as they comply with the statutory requirements of the exemption and only to the extent of the exemption.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf

Churches are exempt from other state and federal taxes only when the law explicitly creates such an exemption. Various cases have upheld the principles that neither the imposition of a tax on a religious organization nor the exemption from a tax for a religious organization are prohibited by the Constitution.

As to whether they should be exempt. I think that the current exemption for religious and non-profit organizations is reasonable. Many of them would not survive if they had to pay income taxes. However, church owned enterprises, property, sale of goods, etc. should be taxed.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 15, 2008 - 2:50PM #22
davelaw40
Posts: 19,669

CharikIeia wrote:

Sorry for intruding, but this is interesting. I don't get this dialogue's point.

Do you mean to say, dave, that by taxing them, you "respect the establishment of religion"?




respect here means "in regards to".


restatement:

Congress shall make no law in regards to any religious organization or make any law that would impede the free exercise of religion.

and GiL, no problem- i should have said noun versus verb

Non Quis, Sed Quid
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 16, 2008 - 10:55AM #23
Sholem
Posts: 344
[QUOTE=davelaw40;215588]

restatement:

Congress shall make no law in regards to any religious organization or make any law that would impede the free exercise of religion.

[/QUOTE]

I don't think that I have seen any court use this interpretation. So I assume that this is your private interpretation.

The phrase "establishment of religion" like the related phrase "disestablishment of religion" had to do with the relationship of religion to the state. In enlightenment Europe and in the newly free American States many people supported the disestablishment of religion. That is the severing of the official ties between church and state.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 17, 2008 - 12:37AM #24
davelaw40
Posts: 19,669

Sholem wrote:

I don't think that I have seen any court use this interpretation. So I assume that this is your private interpretation.

The phrase "establishment of religion" like the related phrase "disestablishment of religion" had to do with the relationship of religion to the state. In enlightenment Europe and in the newly free American States many people supported the disestablishment of religion. That is the severing of the official ties between church and state.




not according to author;  he used the word interchangeably with organization

Non Quis, Sed Quid
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 17, 2008 - 12:37AM #25
davelaw40
Posts: 19,669

Sholem wrote:

I don't think that I have seen any court use this interpretation. So I assume that this is your private interpretation.

The phrase "establishment of religion" like the related phrase "disestablishment of religion" had to do with the relationship of religion to the state. In enlightenment Europe and in the newly free American States many people supported the disestablishment of religion. That is the severing of the official ties between church and state.




not according to author;  he used the word interchangeably with organization

Non Quis, Sed Quid
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 19, 2008 - 5:56PM #26
TPaine
Posts: 9,427
When Madison wrote the first amendment his wording was, "The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience in any matter or on any pretext be infringed."
When the amendment reached Congress the House settled on a version written by Fisher Ames of Massachusetts that said, "Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise of, or to infringe the rights of conscience."
The Senate came up with their own version which stated, "Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion."
A conference committee settled on the final language, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor preventing the free exercise thereof.
Perhaps it should be added that the Senate voted down two versions that would have limited the amendment to only prevent the establishment of a national church. They read, "Congress shall make no law establishing one religious sect or society in preference to others." and, "Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination of religion in preference to another."

"The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg" ... Thomas Jefferson
The United States economy is like a poker game where the chips have become concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and where the other fellows can stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit runs out the game will stop. -- Marriner Eccles: Beckoning Frontiers (1951)
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 26, 2008 - 11:04AM #27
bristlecone77
Posts: 65
If churches insist on swaying government, those churches should be taxed.  The separation of Church and State is there to protect the churches as well as the state.  But those churches who insist on being politically active are no longer churches but political action groups and therefore fall under state jurisdiction and therefore must be taxed.

Shekah
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 26, 2008 - 1:24PM #28
davelaw40
Posts: 19,669

bristlecone77 wrote:

If churches insist on swaying government, those churches should be taxed. The separation of Church and State is there to protect the churches as well as the state. But those churches who insist on being politically active are no longer churches but political action groups and therefore fall under state jurisdiction and therefore must be taxed.

Shekah



and where is that in the Constitution?  Churches have always been a place of political actvity

from the American revolution to the civil rights movement and abortion rights-after almost 250 years of activity you now want to silence them?

Non Quis, Sed Quid
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 27, 2008 - 11:04AM #29
Papa-san
Posts: 202
I believe churches should be tax exempt to a certain extent:

1 - They should be able to write off expenses for the actual buildings and their upkeep at 100 %. The rectory(s) should not exceed the median home price for the area.
2 - The actual salary for all pastors and support staff at 100%, with the limitation that their salary is not to exceed the areas median income. (A pastor in my neck of the woods can expect to earn $35,000 per year.) This is the number that should be used. Associate pastors and clerks, secretaries and maintenance people, the same...
3 - Donations to missionaries and other ministries. Actual recepts.
4 - Money set aside for use directly on building improvement/purchases, up to an amount that equals the cost of a new facility that would house the church with a 20% increase in numbers.

Any income that exceeds what these actual expenses show should be taxed at the usual rate for a business. Our church has these expenses pegged at about $120,000 per year. If our donations received reach $150,000, they should be taxed fully on $30,000.

These mega-churches seem to represent a significant part of the problem. A pastor living a $2,000,000 lifestyle in an area where the median income is $65,000 is a problem. All income above his $65,000 allotment should be taxed. If the average selling price for homes there is $200,000, the rectory value cannot exceed this without being fully taxed on any excess.

It's a matter of closing the loopholes that these people make their way through to 'cheat' the system.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 27, 2008 - 12:53PM #30
BillThinks4Himself
Posts: 3,207
I'm an atheist.  I don't believe any of the supernatural claims of religious groups.  To me, they're rival comic book stories that become the basis for separate religious fraternities.  Their "truths" are fairy tales that point to universal truths that don't require any particular sectarian observance to understand or incorporate within a fuller life.

That said, I respect the Freedom of Religion as one of the greatest legacies of American democracy.  I believe it's important to live and let live.  As for the tax breaks churches get, they're 501(c) non-profits.  As long as they don't provide private benefits, they should remain tax free.  If a minister gets a benefit from a religious organization, that benefit should be construed as taxable.  A minister who gets a salary should pay taxes on that salary.  If he gets a company car, or a house, those perks should be treated the same as any similar perk covered under the tax code.  I'm not looking for radical changes.  I'm just looking for fairness.

Religious organizations should be tax-exempt to the extent that they are non-profit.  They are eleemosynary institutions, educating the public to a a certain belief or tradition.  If they were taxed, it would be a tax on believers.  Taxation would limit the value of contributing to a good cause.  It would tax the contribution by taking a portion of it away.  There is a difference between making ministers pay taxes on their salary (just as civil servants have to pay taxes on theirs) and taxing the organization.  To me, this is a no-brainer.  If religious abuses are to be addressed, let the IRS continue to go after ministers who cook the books.  That's what brought down Jim Bakker.
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