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Thu Nov 8, 2012, 08:38 PM

Levy Property Taxes on all Religious Organizations


One of the key reasons that Henry broke from the catholic church was the amount of money the church was taking out of England and away from his kingdom. The RCC church owned over 50% of the lands in England. Donations to the RCC went to the Pope. When he realized how much he was losing, he kinda lost his temper!

If you own property and pay property taxes in your area, you are subsidizing these religions, who use the roads, sewers and all other services that require bond issues to pay for. They are not carrying their weight. It is unfair and should be rectified.

I am all for taxing their property and the property of all religious tax exempt organizations. This is a local county issue.

Last year I did a study and concluded that there is over $1.5 trillion in untaxed church property in the USA. I contacted and talked to state tax assessors in four states. One of them told me that it is difficult to get the exact amount of untaxed property because they don't report it. He told me that if they did report it, "it would make people angry".

This includes all parishes, grade schools, universities, hospitals, cemeteries, diocesan offices, bishops residences, retreat centers, youth camps, temples, store fronts, mega-churches, mosques and even the companies who supply goods to the churches, like communion wafers, are tax exempt.

Then tax the profits they earn on their businesses like their gift shops and publications.

I'm keen on starting a local movement to get a referendum on levying a property tax on these organizations, with the money generated paying for local public schools and services.

Anyone else game? Perhaps we could get a movement going.

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Response to zwyziec (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 08:46 PM

1. As an atheist, I'd allow set of exemptions for them.

If they offer to keep free and open accounting books, and fund an independent auditing firm to ensure accuracy, I'd allow these organizations to keep their tax exempt status under certain conditions.

Documented, provable expenditures used to assist the community.

If they run fully inclusive shelters, food banks, and such, they get exemptions to support these operations, and an additional percentage back to support their normal day to day operations of the church.

So if you're a megachurch that blows its income and saves on taxes to give each other boats and stuff, you're paying taxes.

If you're a small church, but blow that cash on elections for any party, you lose your exemptions.

If you're a community church that actually benefits the area by walking the walk, then good for you, I'll let you have your house of worship without property taxes. You have helped the neighborhood. You've earned my respect. But if you start spending on homophobic/anti-Muslim causes. Pay up.



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Response to Archaic (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 09:05 PM

5. That's far too complicated and subjective. IMO they should pay what other businesses do for the .

 

taxpayer funded municipal services they receive. The tax breaks they get deprive local governments of tax revenue they could be using to improve serves for everyone.

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Response to MotherPetrie (Reply #5)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 09:29 PM

9. I think that is fair, however...

Most businesses do not actively promote and run shelters and food banks.

So when they do that, they should get a little bit of a break to support that, as that does help.

But not a free ride, or anything like that. I do agree it's subjective. I was just trying to find a way to show that I do think some religious organizations really do good things when they're community based, not ideology based.

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Response to zwyziec (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 08:57 PM

2. Make it simple...

They keep their nose outta politics and campaigning from the pulpit.. they keep their exemptions.

They don't, prepare to pay and pay heavily!

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Response to Rosco T. (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 09:17 PM

7. Some barely skate by on that law now by using coded words and messages that everyone understands.

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Response to northoftheborder (Reply #7)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 10:17 PM

11. I think skate by is not a strong enough description

They are literally walking on thin ice and doing it in public view.

As to the OP, I'm in. I want to see an organization formed to start to work on this. It will require a ton of research and we need to find lawyers on DU who are willing to donate time (a few that are familiar with tax laws would be the best).

I don't have a lot of time as I am a doctoral student, but I would gladly write letters to whomever we need to (public officials, newspapers, etc).

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Response to davidpdx (Reply #11)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:01 AM

13. PDX

Hi DavidPDX: From your tag it sounds like you might be from the Portland Oregon area. I'm from Charbonneau District in Wilsonville.

I'm planning to put a blog together soon and one of the topics is to start ginning up support at the grass roots level for this effort. I'll keep you in mind. Thanks for the reply.

Zwyziec

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Response to zwyziec (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 09:00 PM

3. They absolutely should pay a property tax

The would still be charitable organizations for income tax purposes, but they should definitely pay property tax.

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Response to zwyziec (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 09:02 PM

4. ICAM

 

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Response to zwyziec (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 09:15 PM

6. How about some of these pastors who are multi-millionaires; do they pay income-taxes or do....

....they have some sort of tax shelter set up with their congregation???? That was one of the financial stories that came out about Romney in the last two weeks - not much said about it. but he avoided paying taxes for years by having this deal set up with the Mormon Church to avoid taxes. One of his reasons for not releasing his records.

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Response to zwyziec (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 09:29 PM

8. ITA. They are leeches, many of them BIGOTTED leeches, that the rest of us subsidize.

 

TAX THEM!!!!

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Response to zwyziec (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 09:33 PM

10. DAmn straight. That and more. nt

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Response to zwyziec (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 11:58 PM

12. Churches do little to justify tax exemptions

I've been a Parish Administrator of a very large parish with a budget of $2 million per year.

My wife and I worked with a RCC bishop and diocese. We are intimately familiar with it financials.

I've been involved with a number of Bishops in an organized effort to assist them in their accounting reports to the people in their diocese.

My wife and I have been involved in numerous ways with the RCC and received the highest award the church grants to lay people.

I can state, from experience, that the parishes in that diocese do little for the homeless, the hungry, the imprisoned, the needy, out of the weekly donations made by parishioners. The parishioners themselves do good work, but I can say with certainty that less than 0.5% of weekly donations, if any at all, go to help the community.

I ask all of you who are involved with a church of any denomination, to ask that pastor, or reverend, or preacher, to publicly state how much of their annual contributions are given to help the needy in their community. Prove me wrong!

It is past time to start by taxing the property of all religious non-profit organizations.

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Response to zwyziec (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:03 AM

14. President U.S. Grant and his message to Congress to tax churches

In 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant's message to Congress included a 900-foot petition containing 35,000 signatures stating, "We demand that churches and other ecclesiastical property shall be no longer exempt from taxation."

"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

Unfortunately Grant's warning went unheeded by Congress. By 1971, the amount of real and personal property owned by U.S. churches had ballooned to approximately $110 billion. In New York City alone, the amount was $750 million in 1969, $1 billion in 1982, and $3 billion in 1989.

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