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View Poll Results: should churches be tax exempt
yes 1 11.11%
no 8 88.89%
Voters: 9. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-29-2010, 03:54 AM   #1
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Default should churches be tax exempt?

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it's a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."- Benjamin Franklin

"The divorce between Church and State ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no Church property anywhere, in any state or in the nation, should be exempt for equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization to that extent you impose a tax upon the whole community."
James A Garfield, 20th U.S. President (1881)

"Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." -Jesus Christ, in Mark 12:13-17;

"If all those magnificent cathedrals with their valuable lands in Boston, Philadelphia and New York were taxed as they should be, the taxes of women who hold property would be proportionately lightened....I cannot see any good reason why wealthy churches and a certain amount of property of the clergy should be exempt from taxation, while every poor widow in the land, struggling to feed, clothe, and educate a family of children, must be taxed on the narrow lot and humble home." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton, womens suffrage campaign, circa 1880.

"For years many a thinking people have had gloomy forebodings as to the result of the immense power of the church in our political affairs.... And the first step in the disestablishment of the church & of all churches is the taxation of church property. The government has no right to tax infidels for everything that takes the name of religion. For every dollar of church property untaxed, all other properties must be taxed one dollar more, and thus the poor man's home bears the burden of maintaining costly edifices from which he & his family are as effectively excluded -- as though a policeman stood to bar their entrance, and in smaller towns all sects are building, building, building, not a little town in the western prairies but has its three & four churches & this immense accumulation of wealth is all exempt from taxation. In the new world as well as the old these rich ecclesiastical corporations are a heavy load on the shoulders of the people, for what wealth escapes, the laboring masses are compelled to meet. If all the church property in this country were taxed, in the same ratio poor widows are to day, we could soon roll off the national debt....The clergy of all sects are universally opposed to free thought & free speech, & if they had the power even in our republic today would crush any man who dared to question the popular religion."-Elizabeth Cady Stanton, womens suffrage campaign, circa 1877.



"I would also call your attention to the importance of correcting an evil that, if permitted to continue, will probably lead to great trouble in our land....it is the accumulation of vast amounts of untaxed church property....In 1850, the church properties in the U.S. which paid no taxes, municipal or state, amounted to about $83 million. In 1860, the amount had doubled; in 1875, it is about $1 billion. By 1900, without check, it is safe to say this property will reach a sum exceeding $3 billion....so vast a sum, receiving all the protection and benefits of government without bearing its portion of the burdens and expenses of the same, will not be looked upon acquiescently by those who have to pay the taxes....I would suggest the taxation of all property equally, whether church or corporation." -Ulysses S. Grant

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Old 08-29-2010, 04:10 AM   #2
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Default Re: should churches be paying taxes ?

WHERE THE VATICAN WEALTH IS STORED

"The Vatican has large investments with the Rothschilds of Britain, France and America, with the Hambros Bank, with the Credit Suisse in London and Zurich. In the United States it has large investments with the Morgan Bank, the Chase-Manhattan Bank, the First National Bank of New York, the Bankers Trust Company, and others. The Vatican has billions of shares in the most powerful international corporations such as Gulf Oil, Shell, General Motors, Bethlehem Steel, General Electric, International Business Machines, T.W.A., etc. At a conservative estimate, these amount to more than 500 million dollars in the U.S.A. alone.

"In a statement published in connection with a bond prospectus, the Boston archdiocese listed its assets at Six Hundred and Thirty-five Million ($635,891,004), which is 9.9 times its liabilities. This leaves a net worth of Five Hundred and Seventy-one million dollars ($571,704,953). It is not difficult to discover the truly astonishing wealth of the church, once we add the riches of the twenty-eight archdioceses and 122 dioceses of the U.S.A., some of which are even wealthier than that of Boston.

"Some idea of the real estate and other forms of wealth controlled by the Catholic church may be gathered by the remark of a member of the New York Catholic Conference, namely 'that his church probably ranks second only to the United States Government in total annual purchase.' Another statement, made by a nationally syndicated Catholic priest, perhaps is even more telling. 'The Catholic church,' he said, 'must be the biggest corporation in the United States. We have a branch office in every neighborhood. Our assets and real estate holdings must exceed those of Standard Oil, A.T.&T., and U.S. Steel combined. And our roster of dues-paying members must be second only to the tax rolls of the United States Government.'

"The Catholic church, once all her assets have been put together, is the most formidable stockbroker in the world. The Vatican, independently of each successive pope, has been increasingly orientated towards the U.S. The Wall Street Journal said that the Vatican's financial deals in the U.S. alone were so big that very often it sold or bought gold in lots of a million or more dollars at one time.

"The Vatican's treasure of solid gold has been estimated by the United Nations World Magazine to amount to several billion dollars. A large bulk of this is stored in gold ingots with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, while banks in England and Switzerland hold the rest. But this is just a small portion of the wealth of the Vatican, which in the U.S. alone, is greater than that of the five wealthiest giant corporations of the country. When to that is added all the real estate, property, stocks and shares abroad, then the staggering accumulation of the wealth of the Catholic church becomes so formidable as to defy any rational assessment.

"The Catholic church is the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property owner in existence. She is a greater possessor of material riches than any other single institution, corporation, bank, giant trust, government or state of the whole globe. The pope, as the visible ruler of this immense amassment of wealth, is consequently the richest individual of the twentieth century. No one can realistically assess how much he is worth in terms of billions of dollars."
http://www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin...cgi?read=68927
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Old 08-29-2010, 04:14 AM   #3
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Default Re: should churches be paying taxes ?

this is absolutely deplorable .

Quote:
Spiritually Bankrupt

Earlier this month, Pope Benedict XVI issued the first apology to priest abuse victims from St. Peter's Square - a gesture intended to show that church leadership is finally ready to confront this growing scandal.

But in reporting a recent story, we found that behind the scenes - and in court - the church has taken a much less contrite and more confrontational position. Our investigation found that in various dioceses across the United States, church leaders were going great lengths to avoid making amends with the same victims of abuse they claimed to be trying to make peace with.

Facing waves of lawsuits by now-adult victims, we found the church has reacted more like a big business than a sacred institution: Wealthy dioceses have claimed to be broke and taken the drastic act of filing for bankruptcy. Only when forced to open their ledgers in bankruptcy proceedings does it become clear that several of these dioceses were actually flush with assets - cash, real estate, parishes - that it could have made available to victims seeking restitution.
Take the Diocese of San Diego: In 2007, just before several abuse cases were scheduled to begin, it filed for bankruptcy. It sought this protection despite owning hundreds of millions of dollars worth of real estate - everything from commercial buildings, to open land, to parking lots. Only after it became clear that the bankruptcy judge was ready to dismiss the diocese's bankruptcy filing did the church seek to settle with victims. At the end of the bankruptcy proceedings, the judge, a Catholic, scolded the church for being "disingenuous."


In Davenport, Iowa, diocese officials went on a spending spree just before it claimed insolvency and filed for bankruptcy in 2006 - spending that included nearly $20,000 for the very-much-alive bishop's future funeral.

In Wilmington, Delaware -- the most recent diocese to file for bankruptcy-- church officials have tried to limit liability by claiming the property owned by its parishes is separate from its own. It all came down to a $120 million investment fund administered by the diocese. Various diocese entities --including schools, parishes and cemeteries-- had invested $75 million in the fund. The diocese argued that that money should be off-limits to victims' lawsuits. But the bankruptcy judge didn't buy it. On June 28, he ruled that all of the money should be up for grabs.

We spoke to one of the plaintiffs in Wilmington, Jim Holman, who has a unique perspective. Holman was abused by a priest when he was a teenager. Now, he's a bankruptcy lawyer who has guided dozens of companies through Chapter 11 filings. He's clearly not adverse to the concept of bankruptcy -- But he said the church, as a sacred body, should be held to a higher standard than the average corporation.

"This, let's preserve every avenue of defense with regard to our liquid assets -- you know, it's-- it's an understandable reaction if you're dealing with a widget factory," Holman told us. "It's not an understandable attitude when you're dealing with this kind of civic wound."
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-ra..._b_629424.html
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Old 08-29-2010, 04:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: should churches be paying taxes ?

Quote:
a partial listing of corporations owned by the Mormon Church

Deseret Management Corporation - http://www.deseretmanagement.com/
Beneficial Financial Group - http://www.beneficialfinancialgroup.com/
Bonneville International - http://www.bonnint.com/
Bonneville Communications - http://www.bonneville.com/
Bonneville Interactive Services
Bonneville Satellite - http://www.bonnevillesatellite.com/
35 Radio Stations
1 Television Station (KSL)
Deseret Book - http://deseretbook.com/
Excel Entertainment - http://www.xelent.com/
Deseret Morning News - http://deseretnews.com/dn
Hawaii Reserves - http://www.hawaiireserves.com/
Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) - http://www.polynesia.com/ and http://www.polynesia.co.jp/
La'ie Shopping Center
La'ie Park
La'ie Cemetary
Hukilau Beach Park
La'ie Water Company
La'ie Treatment Works (sewer)
Mstar.net - http://www.mstar.net/preportal/index.asp
Temple Square Hospitality - http://www.htsc.net/ and http://www.hoteltsc.com/
Weddings (JSMB and Lion House)
The Inn at Temple Square - http://www.diningattemplesquare.com/
Lion House Pantry - http://www.diningattemplesquare.com/
The Roof Restaurant - http://www.diningattemplesquare.com/
The Garden Restaurant - http://www.diningattemplesquare.com/
Passages Restaurant - http://www.diningattemplesquare.com/
Zions Securities Corporation - http://www.zsc.com/

Farm Management Corporation (commericial farms and agricultural properties)
Deseret Land and Livestock
200,000 acres of land in Rich, Morgan and Weber counties (Utah)
Sun Ranch (Martin's Cove)
Deseret Ranches of Florida (Orlando) (largest ranch in Florida)
Deseret Farms of California
Rolling Hills (Idaho)
West Hills Orchards (Elberta, Utah)
Cactus Lane Ranch (Arizona)
(more)

Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (CPB)
Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Deseret Trust Company
LDS Family Services
Property Reserves Inc. (PRI)
Ensign Peak Advisors - http://www.imno.org/articles.asp?qid=123

Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators (DMBA) - http://www.dmba.com/

Brigham Young University (BYU) - http://home.byu.edu/webapp/home/index.jsp
BYU - Idaho - http://www.byui.edu/
BYU - Hawaii - http://www.byuh.edu/index.jsp
LDS Business College - http://www.ldsbc.edu/
http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon410.htm
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Old 08-29-2010, 05:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: should churches be paying taxes ?

Normally I am for the complete separation of church and state, including no taxes paid. But seeing how abused the system is by the churches, and what a shameless tax haven organized religion has become for those claiming to have no interest in material things... I say no tax exemption.

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.
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Old 08-29-2010, 11:09 AM   #6
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Default Re: should churches be paying taxes ?

I'm the asshat that accidentally voted yes.

Great articles MOP, and agree...churches, mosques, synagogues, et al, should NOT be tax exempt.

Quote:
Because religious organizations are not accountable to the citizens who subsidize them. If churches engage in charitable work that benefits the community, do all citizens have an interest in supporting such endeavors with, say, various tax exemptions? Of course. This is the sound basis for tax exemptions for non-profit organizations, whose activities and finances are subject to IRS audit and public scrutiny. In the case of religious organizations, however, the books are closed.

Non-church groups receiving tax exemptions must annually file a detailed 990 statement itemizing where the money has gone. The IRS automatically waives the 990 requirement for churches.

So what if churches do not engage in charitable work? Or do so far less efficiently, effectively - or charitably - than the many non-profits or government programs we do not subsidize in this way? Religious organizations can and do take great advantage of their tax-free status. Many amass great wealth and vast media empires - all of it off the tax rolls. The point is that religious organizations can and do espouse doctrines of intolerance and hatred, filter funds to foreign enemies, and cause far more harm than good in their communities. They are nevertheless entirely tax-exempt, their finances never scrutinized, because they qualify as "religious organizations."

Tax-exempt status is a privilege - not a right - and churches should be held to the same standards as other non-profits - if not higher standards.
And more reasons here...http://taxthechurches.org/
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Old 08-29-2010, 11:15 AM   #7
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Default Re: should churches be paying taxes ?

The title and the prompt call for different answers. Just thought it might make it better if they ask the same question.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:29 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ricardisimo View Post
Normally I am for the complete separation of church and state, including no taxes paid. But seeing how abused the system is by the churches, and what a shameless tax haven organized religion has become for those claiming to have no interest in material things... I say no tax exemption.

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.
Quote:
I was poking around the web, looking for information on Rev. John Hagee, the controversial Texas evangelical preacher who has endorsed Sen. John McCain for president. One thing I discovered: churches, unlike other non-profit organizations, are not required to make their financial statements public, even though they are tax-exempt.

Rev. Hagee, in fact, reorganized his TV station (Global Evangelism Television) as a church (Grace Church of San Antonio Churches) to shelter those records, after the San Antonio Express-News revealed his income exceeded $1 million in 2001. All of his assets -- including an 8,000-or-so acre ranch -- are now sheltered in the Cornerstone Church.

Then I wondered why Congress decided that these financial statements don't have to be public. That's when I stumbled upon an even bigger shocker:

Uncovering the root of terrorist financing has become one of the biggest challenges facing the United States in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
-- US Treasury, 21 May 2007 (pdf)

Wow! Who knew? Bigger than Iraq and social security and the federal deficit? Really?

As a taxpayer and an advocate of crowd-sourcing and "the more eyeballs the merrier" -- I think that the solution to this problem (if it is, indeed, a problem) is to make all that information public. Your organization tax-exempt? Prove it to all of us by filing electronically into a database not unlike the government contracts database. Can't file electronically? Then you pay someone to do it for you (Hey! It's private enterprise, right?)

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights requires that Section 501(c) organizations do something close: they must publicly disclose, on the web:

1. Copies of the application for tax exemption (for those organizations which filed before July 15, 1987, this requirement only applies if the organization has a copy of the application on July 15, 1987); and
2. Copies of the organizationís three most recent annual information returns.

What's a Section 501(c) organization, you ask? Those organized under 501(c)3, according to the IRS, are "commonly referred to as charitable organizations." Specifically:

The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals. The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.

Churches are not 501(c)3s, and they have their own categorization and are exempt from even filing annual reports. (They've been exempt from federal taxes since 1913) Via the IRS (pdf), which, by the way, doesn't provide a legal definition of "church" (neither does Congress):

Churches that meet the requirements of IRC section 501(c)(3) are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS....

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all IRC section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office...

For example, certain voter education activities (including the presentation of public forums and the publication of voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity...

[R]eligious leaders cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official church functions... religious leaders who speak or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to clearly indicate that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization. (Aside, but when the organization is the leader, such as in the case of Rev. Hagee and many other tele-evangelists...?)...

Fascinating, isn't it? And there's more. Congress has specifically tied the hands of The Executive Branch (one wonders about the reported IRS investigation into Rev. Wright's church, given this bit from the IRS guide to church taxes, emphasis added):

Congress has imposed special limitations, found in IRC section 7611, on how and when the IRS may conduct civil tax inquiries and examinations of churches. The IRS may only initiate a church tax inquiry if the Director, Exempt Organizations, Examinations reasonably believes, based on a written statement of the facts and circumstances, that the organization: (a) may not qualify for the exemption; or (b) may not be paying tax on an unrelated business or other taxable activity.

This may be the coup de gr‚ce: ministers of every faith are "[exempt] from federal taxes for most of the money they spend on housing ... [as well as] exempt from income tax withholding and can opt out of Social Security."

Current [2006] Congressional budget records show that the exemption has cost the government as much as $500 million in tax revenue a year, shifting that much of the national tax burden onto other taxpayers.

Puts tele-evangelism as a career into a new light, doesn't it?

Who's for asking presidential, senatorial and house candidates their viewpoints on putting churches on the same footing as other charitable organizations, like The Red Cross or The Salvation Army -- requiring that churches file the same annual tax reports as other "chartiable and religious" organizations? Would this really be a violation of the First Amendment?

But there is an even bigger question: should churches -- and other charitable organizations -- be exempt from paying income tax? In 1913, when the 16th Amendment authorized the income tax, the government was funded by taxes on goods (a regressive tax), including import tariffs. Bert B. argues that such tax exemption is in effect a government subsidy:

Let's say you give $1000 to your local church over the course of a year. At the end of the year, when you prepare tax return, you can deduct that contribution from your taxable income if you itemize deductions. If you are in the 30% tax bracket, that means that the government does not get $300 in tax revenue that they would have collected if you had not made that donation. In effect, you are giving your church $700, and the government is giving them $300. How does this differ from the Oil Depletion Allowance subsidy offered to oil companies or the huge payments to agribusiness for not growing crops? There is no difference.
http://uspolitics.about.com/b/2008/0...d-politics.htm
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: should churches be paying taxes ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelersinCA View Post
The title and the prompt call for different answers. Just thought it might make it better if they ask the same question.
yes a noticed that...lol.... MOD !!! .... can you change one or the other to make them match ?
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: should churches be paying taxes ?

i'm a member of a private social club , kinda like a VFW without the vets. the club is owned by the members and no one person profits from it. yet its still considered a profit organization. being a private club , we are afforded certain privileges that a public bar is not, such as opening on sundays without having to sell food , and certain gambling is aloud. in order to have club status there is rules in place. they have to show proof that they donate , i'm not sure if its a certain amount, or a percentage to charities, and they are only aloud to have a specific amount of cash in the bank..... THESE are rules that should be also applying to churches !!! i don't know how acurate this is, but i read somewhere where churches on average give less than 10% to charities. so what about the other 90 %.
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