EQ: Should churches (defined as churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, etc.) remain tax-exempt?
Background: Some argue that the Federal government should not tax religious institutions, such as churches, because this would violate the separation of church and state. However, others claim that a tax exemption is a form of subsidy, and the Federal Government is barred from funding religion and religious institutions. Furthermore, some people start up fraudulent religions, so they may exploit the tax exemption.
Claim: Although one can argue that churches are entitled to tax exemptions, because otherwise the government would be violating the separation of church and state, one can also argue that the federal government loses much of its revenue when fraudulent faiths exploit the IRS tax exemption. Additionally, secular nonprofit organizations, unlike other religious institutions, should be exempt from taxes, because of their work that would otherwise fall under the government. While other religious establishments, like churches and temples, conduct charitable work as well, they primary purpose is to worship and teach, which the government is barred from doing.
Support: Some religious institutions are strictly made for instruction and worship and not charitable work, therefore these churches should be taxed. “Tax exemptions to secular nonprofits like hospitals and homeless shelters are justified because such organizations do work that would otherwise fall to government. Churches, however, while they may undertake charitable work, exist primarily for religious worship and instruction, which the US government is constitutionally prevented from performing.” Also, the government loses revenue from exempting churches from paying taxes, “Exempting churches from taxation costs the government billions of dollars in lost revenue, which it cannot afford, especially in tough economic times.” Furthermore, some “churches” exploit the tax exemptions, “The tax code makes no distinction between authentic religions and fraudulent startup “faiths,” which benefit at taxpayers’ expense.”