EQ: Should churches (defined as churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, etc.) remain tax-exempt? (Justin-TOPIC 2)

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.”

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4 Comments

Filed under Controversial Issue #2

4 responses to “EQ: Should churches (defined as churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, etc.) remain tax-exempt? (Justin-TOPIC 2)

  1. Christian Encarnacion

    Personally, I believe that it is indeed a violation of the Separation of Church and State for these religious institutions to not be taxed. Many of these “churches” actually promote their political views through that of what they follow in that of their followed religion, and as a result expect their viewpoints to be represented. If they participate in political events and expect their viewpoints to be portrayed in that of who serves for their nation then they should and must be taxed. The government already has lost a great deal of possible revenue, that could actually have boosted our economy, from remaining to keep churches tax exempt. We thus contradict the idea of separating church from state if we keep these religious institutions tax exempt. This is not a matter of whether or not the type of work they commit to is charitable or not, but rather a fact of whether or not they are contributing to that of the nation they have stationed their institution in. Churches should be taxed! ” Associate Justice of the US Supreme court, William O. Douglas, in his dissenting opinion in Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York, decided May 4, 1970, stated: “If believers are entitled to public financial support, so are nonbelievers. A believer and nonbeliever under the present law are treated differently because of the articles of their faith… I conclude that this tax exemption is unconstitutional.”” (William O. Douglas, LLB, US Supreme Court dissenting opinion, Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York, lp.findlaw.com, May 4, 1970)

    • Justin Clements

      Indeed, I agree with your claim, it is very well-written. Though I did not necessarily include your support in my essay, I did touch on the subject of the US Government losing much of its revenue through these tax exemptions. Also, I did include the idea that giving tax exemptions to churches would in fact show that the government is in support of religion, which is unconstitutional.

  2. Johna Russell

    Churches that do not have any charitable agendas should be taxed. Churches often ask for donations from those who attend it. This method of earning money goes unregulated by the government. Not all members of the clergy are honorable, as with any group of people, there are always those who have selfish intentions and desires. In order to regulate this flow of capital, the American federal government must implement a tax on churches for the same reasons that bussinesses are taxed.

    • Justin Clements

      I find your claim interesting. I never thought of including the idea that some clergymen are not honorable, and should be regulated under the IRS. Your idea, despite the lack of support, is very appealing to this issue.

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