Tuesday, March 21, 2006

a modest proposal

why should churches be tax exempt anyway?
they provide services that people pay for, they take in income/revenue, some even have revenues into the milions, some have for-profit ventures, more than some are overtly capitalist in ideology and mission.

so why the tax protection? if we're all going to use our churches as marketplaces and political arenas, then why not strip off the mask and go whole hog?

Pastors' Get-Out-the-Vote Training Could Test Tax Rules - New York Times

6 comments:

E.I. said...

I agree: tax 'em! As you said, they use public services but don't pay for them. Churches are being granted a special right above and beyond what us tax payers have. They use the services, they pay the taxes, period.

Yeah, this is one of those "I agree" posts, but there you go.

jesus chick said...

i'm pretty green about taxes/tax exempt, etc. but i asked a friend of mine in the ministry and here's what he had to say:

"With the notable exception of the clergy, no one takes a salary. No one makes money off the deal. The church is a non profit venture. Who is benefiting from the church's existence? Compare that with 3M or Walmart.
The purpose of the church is not to make money. The purpose of any taxable business is to make money.

It is very cynical and demonstrably dishonest (not to mention a complete misunderstanding) to equate the church with a for-profit enterprise."

ding said...

i actually happen to agree that churches should be tax exempt.

but i put on my snarky hat when i see things that endanger that status. if a church is going to participate in activities that blur that distinction (and political action could blur that), then why not reclassify as a 501c3?

or - are they already classified as 501c3??

ding said...

but on another point...

i think i would have to question your friend about 'no one but the clergy' making a salary. at my church we have a substantial staff and they all get a paycheck - unless they're lay leaders (like members of session or the deacon board.)

and at some rather huge congregations, i'd wonder at the profit-less characterization, as well. i can think of more than several big black churches in los angeles that are overtly cash rich. (hello, ken ulmer and fred price). and here, in IL, there's that fiefdom called Walnut Grove, or Cedar Grove, or - crap, what's the name of that megachurch in Bolingbroke?

in other words, there are churches where someone is making money off the deal.

(and i've always thought it was a good idea to see who it is.)

jesus chick said...

our church is small - we meet in a high school auditorium. maybe 125? so in our case it sure isn't the money. i think the church you're thinking of is willow creek. i try to scam some of their ideas for our small group program! ha!

also, i asked my pal about paul being married and he thinks he was because he was a member of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem and according to historians, they were typically married.

Beats me.

ding said...

i knew it!
i knew i wasn't imagining it.
and i wasn't imagining the tent maker thing, either.