Question About A Church Tax exemption :

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I've always been unfamiliar with this topic. Someone told me recently that Churches no longer being tax exempt would not be a benefit to the country.This is becasue they would then have access to other government benefits. Is this true? What are some of the major benefits they would have access to?

edit: Ack! sorry about the topic title!

edited 4th Oct '12 1:08:51 PM by moogmg

2 Fighteer4th Oct 2012 01:39:30 PM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
I corrected the thread title. I'll allow this thread with the understanding that it focus on this specific topic and not branch out into other issues.

I looked on Wikipedia for a specific reference. Here it is, from this article:

26 USC 501(a). The exemption from Federal income tax is longstanding. This exemption formed part of the Revenue Act of 1894. The 1894 Act was the first broadly applicable U.S. tax on corporate income, but was soon declared unconstitutional. Since ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913, the exemption for charitable, religious, and educational organizations has been included in all subsequent Federal income tax law. See Belknap, Chauncey, "The Federal Income Tax Exemption of Charitable Organizations: Its History and Underlying Policy," 1954, reprinted (very large file) as pages 2025-2043 of the Research Papers of the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs, Volume IV, 1977.

Churches are exempt from corporate income tax because they fall under the broad umbrella of charitable organizations. Nonprofit organizations are not allowed to be politically active. Again, here's the code reference, excerpted from here:

(3) Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

The current argument against the tax exemption on churches is based on the condition established in that paragraph, which is that they not engage in political activities. 26 USC § 501 (C)(3) is seen by some as infringing on the First Amendment rights of churches, and they are currently planning various activities in defiance of the law in order to bring this issue to public attention.

My personal take on the matter is that any church that engages in this form of civil disobedience should not be subject to police action, such as arrest, but should instead have its tax exempt status revoked by the IRS.

edited 4th Oct '12 1:52:41 PM by Fighteer

3 DeMarquis4th Oct 2012 01:42:15 PM from Hell, USA , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Right, the tax exemption is the primary lever the government uses to keep churches out of politics. Were it to be rescinded, there would be even more overt political activities that there are now. I think we all know which party would benefit the most from that.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
4 Fighteer4th Oct 2012 01:48:04 PM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
That law keeps all charitable organizations out of politics. That includes Planned Parenthood, the Boy Scouts, etc. It also stops lobbying groups from claiming charitable status so they can operate tax free.

As I see it, the choice is quite simple: stay out of politics or pay income tax. These churches seem to want to Take a Third Option by invoking the First Amendment.

It is also fine for individual members of a church to engage in political action. It is not okay for the church itself to sponsor a candidate.

edited 4th Oct '12 1:53:39 PM by Fighteer

5 DeMarquis4th Oct 2012 01:53:38 PM from Hell, USA , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Link?
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
6 Fighteer4th Oct 2012 01:53:59 PM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
7 TheyCallMeTomu4th Oct 2012 01:55:03 PM , Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Totes Moe
I suppose it's fair for a church to surrender tax exempt status, and thus become political. Do you think that might be a wise idea for some megachurches?
8 DeMarquis4th Oct 2012 01:55:33 PM from Hell, USA , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
You used the phrase "These churches" as if you were talking about a specific group somewhere.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
9 Fighteer4th Oct 2012 01:57:43 PM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
Ah, yes. Here's the first article I found on a quick search.

On Sept. 28, pastors from 20 states will give politically based sermons from the pulpit as part of a protest organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal-advocacy group. The protest will challenge an Internal Revenue Code restriction that limits the political activities of charitable organizations - including churches and other religious groups - that are exempt from taxation. According to the Internal Revenue Code, religious groups may lose their tax-exempt status if they officially endorse a political candidate. The ADF says that if its protest leads the Internal Revenue Service to penalize houses of worship for their pastors' political advocacy, ADF will bring a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of these penalties.

The date given is September 28... did this happen already? I didn't read about it if so.

edited 4th Oct '12 1:58:39 PM by Fighteer

10 Joesolo4th Oct 2012 02:22:52 PM from Wouldn't you like to know... , Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Indiana Solo
Well I understood them being kept out of politics for a long time, but now adays some are being forced to provide birth control to employees when it's against their beliefs. I think thats wrogn and they should be able to fight against it.
11 Fighteer4th Oct 2012 02:29:00 PM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
Churches are exempt from that requirement. Next argument!
Honestly, I think that organizations that are tax exempt for charitable reasons need to prove that they're actually a not-for-profit charity before they get the exemption.
"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
13 Fighteer4th Oct 2012 02:33:17 PM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
I have no idea how the law operates in that regard but I'm almost certain that they do have to prove it, and do so ongoingly. Non-profits have to file annual statements of receipts and outlays and prove that they are following the provisions of the law.

14 Madrugada4th Oct 2012 02:33:18 PM , Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
religious groups may lose their tax-exempt status if they officially endorse a political candidate.
emphasis added

The pastor of a parish is not "the Church". He's an individual, exercising his right to free expression. This includes the right to say "<This politician> is advocating things which are contrary to the tenets of the Church", or "<This referendum> is contrary to the tenets of the Church". What 501-C(3) status means is the "The Diocese of <wherever>" cannot buy ads or billboards itself that count as "political action". It doesn't mean that all employees of "The Diocese Of <wherever>" must refrain from any political action as individuals.

501-C(3)s do have to be able to provide proof that they meet the criteria on demand.

edited 4th Oct '12 2:35:27 PM by Madrugada

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
15 Fighteer4th Oct 2012 02:34:52 PM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
When speaking a sermon from the pulpit, a pastor is acting in his official capacity as a representative of the Church. He can say anything he likes outside the church, in private conversation with members of his congregation, or at political events that he attends. But church property and/or church money may not be used to engage in political advocacy of any sort.

In a similar manner, a Planned Parenthood clinic may not use its funds to pay for billboards or run political advertising, and its employees may not use the facilities to hold political rallies or endorse candidates. A doctor treating a patient at a PP clinic cannot endorse the Democratic party while doing so.

edited 4th Oct '12 2:37:32 PM by Fighteer

[up] Well, they can run billboards, but it can only be for themselves. Much like churches can advertise their location in the Classifieds.
"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
17 Fighteer4th Oct 2012 02:49:54 PM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
Of course I mean political billboards. waii Really, are we at the level where assumed properties of an argument have to be nitpicked?
[up] Just making sure. You made it sound like they weren't allowed to advertise at all. tongue

Also, didn't a bunch of churches donate to Rick Perry's campaign? And the whole Prop 8 thing too?

edited 4th Oct '12 2:51:55 PM by DrunkGirlfriend

"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
19 Fighteer4th Oct 2012 02:53:07 PM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
They can donate from their personal funds. They can also set up political advocacy groups in their capacity as private citizens to funnel donations. They cannot use church donations directly (or indirectly) for either of those things, though.
[up] See, I remember hearing that it was the church as an organization was donating to the campaign. I'm trying to find the article again, but it's been so long. @_@
"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
21 Joesolo4th Oct 2012 02:55:58 PM from Wouldn't you like to know... , Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Indiana Solo
@Fighter- not religious organizations in General. My church's attached schools were going to be forced too.
Guh, I can't find it. Maybe I'm misremembering. Had something to do with that rally that Perry was holding in Texas. I remember that it stuck in my head because it was a backed by a coalition of churches, some of which my family was involved with when I was still living with them, I think they called it the New Apostolic somethingsomething.
"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
23 Fighteer4th Oct 2012 03:12:39 PM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
@Joesolo: The issue was about health coverage for secular employees of religiously affiliated institutions. If I am not a member of your religion but you hire me as a secretary for your school, your moral precepts should not dictate what kind of employer health coverage I can get. Access to healthcare is being treated as a protected right here.
[up] Aren't they using the "religious organizations being forced to provide birth control" thing to argue against the mandate that all insurance has to cover birth control? It's not like we're forcing the organizations themselves to hand out birth control pills at the front desk or anything.
"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
25 Madrugada4th Oct 2012 03:49:23 PM , Relationship Status: In season
With Mod Hat On
Guys. I realize that I contributed to continuing the derail, but you do realize that not one post in this thread has actually been about the question raised in the Opening Post? That is, "If they are no longer tax exempt, what other Government services/benefits/programs would they become eligible for that they are not now?"

The topic immediately jumped to "Are Churches politically active?", "What constitutes "political action?", and has now veered into "Should Churches be allowed to impose their behavioral standards on non-member employees by what benefits they do or do not provide?"

Topic, or it gets locked.

edited 4th Oct '12 3:50:35 PM by Madrugada

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.

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