Tax Status and Religion
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05-01-2011, 02:36 PM
 
Tax Status and Religion
A friend and I are attending a mock congress to be held in Washington DC in February. We have to a submit a bill, and we want it to be something that will be approved (for debate that is) and will invite vigorous debate. We were initially going to investigate the Bush administration for war crimes, but we felt that this would be seen as partisan since other administrations may be equally guilty (and this bill may not be approved for discussion).

So, we floated the idea of taxing religious institutions. Of course, this relies on the assumption that religious institutions are given tax exemptions in the US. I have been doing some research but haven't found any definitive article/information on the details of the tax exemption, or whether it exists at all or applies to certain religions.

Does anyone know of the official state of tax exemptions and religion in the US?
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05-01-2011, 05:08 PM
RE: Tax Status and Religion
Try this

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/u...-000-.html

Or this :

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p557.pdf
(it's from the IRS so I assume it's more relevant)

Does it help ?
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05-01-2011, 07:39 PM
 
RE: Tax Status and Religion
Ewww.... Tax Code

Thanks though.
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05-01-2011, 07:47 PM
RE: Tax Status and Religion
What a lot of this translates to is that any salary received from a church is subject to extra tax credit in a number of ways outside of the normal filing.

Priests can for example claim all of their rent, food, clothes, and utilities as tax deductible. They only pay tax on income they spend outside of their own basic needs. They pay very little to no tax because of this.

Edit: Most of this comes from twisting around section 27-D of the tax code. The actual book on what religious organizations can and cannot do with taxes is very difficult to obtain (for obvious reasons) but I imagine it would make a phone book look like a novella.
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06-01-2011, 10:32 AM
RE: Tax Status and Religion
Given how much money religious institutions have , this is a big disappointment.
They can spin money like nobody's business , makes the "evil" bankers look almost holy.

Still , the Vatican did get busted , so Hooray !!!
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-...vered.html
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06-01-2011, 10:50 AM
RE: Tax Status and Religion
TA

I think this is a great idea but given the sensitivity around anything dealing with religion, I think you are at risk for this not making the cut either. Just something to consider, but whomever runs this thing may not wish to risk any blowback from the "they attacked my religion!!!" crowd.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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06-01-2011, 01:27 PM
 
RE: Tax Status and Religion
BnW-

JSA is a pretty open organization. There was a religious debate at the last convention and that went by uncensored and just fine. People did get angry, and I talked them down appropriately.

My main question would then be whether or not this tax exemption status applies only to churches, or to any religious organization. Could I not just make up a religion and then gain a tax exemption status?
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06-01-2011, 03:08 PM
 
RE: Tax Status and Religion
Never mind, it applies to all religious organizations. Here is the bill that we have come up with-


Ever since 1954, Section 501© of the Internal Revenue Code of the Untied States of America has classified religious organizations as public charities, thus granting them a full tax exemption from income taxes. However, unlike public charities, which utilize all of their resources, either directly or indirectly, towards advancing their respective philanthropic cause, religious organizations do not donate all of their money, either directly or indirectly, towards a philanthropic cause. Thus, all the income that the church donates cannot possibly be considered tax deductible for charitable reasons. Some of this income is spent on expansion, building maintenance, preaching of religious ideology, lobbying, conversion, etc… Organized religious practice in of itself cannot be considered charitable or tax exempt work, since this would violate fundamental principles of secular state. Furthermore, to ensure full separation of church and state, a fundamental principle articulated in the Constitution of the United States, the restrictions placed upon political activity on tax exempt charitable organizations must be maintained. Religion should have no influence in a modern, secular state. Religious funds dedicated to lobbying must also be restricted, since such private interests are a violation of the principle of separation of church and state. In 2010 alone, the Senate Office of Public Records declares that religious organizations have spent $1,754,061 on the political process. This is an unacceptable practice that must be ended immediately, to ensure a purely secular legislative process on issues such as education and rights for homosexuals.

BE IT ENACTED:

Section 1: Religious organizations currently tax exempt or having the option of being tax exempt under section 501© of the Internal Revenue Code be denied their current tax exemption status or the option of becoming tax exempt.

Section 2: Private donations towards religious organization that are currently qualified for a tax deduction under section 170© of the Internal Revenue Code will be no longer qualified for a tax deduction.

Section 3: Religious organizations that are subject to absolute prohibition from engaging in political activity under section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code will still be subject to the existing restrictions after revocation of their tax exemption. Furthermore, the right of religious organizations to engage in lobbying activity currently allowed under section 501©(3) will be revoked. Religious organizations must remain strictly non-partisan. Political action currently defined as non-partisan by the Internal Revenue Service will still be permissible. Furthermore, no restrictions except those that already exist shall be placed upon individuals who are members of religious organizations on political activity.

Section 4: Income of religious organizations spent directly upon charitable causes recognized by the Internal Revenue Service, as long as such income is demonstrably being directed to these sources, shall be deemed tax exempt. However, no other income of religious organizations shall be considered tax exempt, as per Sections 1 and 2.

Edit: the copyright symbols should be parentheses with a c in them.
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07-01-2011, 12:12 AM
RE: Tax Status and Religion
I'd vote for that. Smile

I want to rip off your superstitions and make passionate sense to you
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02-02-2011, 06:57 PM
 
RE: Tax Status and Religion
Sorry to bring this thread back up, but the DC trip is coming up and I was hoping that the marvelous and intelligent community here could take a look at my speech, which I whipped together in about 30 minutes and is no way final-


First, let me begin by stating that freedom to choose and practice one’s religion is one of the most basic of American, and indeed human rights. The United States of America was founded on an ideology, and toleration was part of that ideology. But, considering the time period, the most fundamental and audacious element of this ideology was the concept of a secular state. The Founding Fathers were all aggressively secular. To separate Church and State was the primary concern of the likes of Jefferson, who wrote that there must exist “a wall of separation between church and state”. It is why the Constitution includes the phrase that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” and why the Treaty of Tripoli 1797 explicitly states that the “United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion.”

Secular government is thus at the core of the set of principles we may call American. And it is for this exact reason that the issue at hand exists.

The bill that we propose confronts two issues: The tax exemption status that has been obtained by religious organization since the 1954 reorganization of the Internal Revenue Code, and the influence that religious organizations have in the political process. Both of these issues are grievous violations of the concept of a secular state.

Today, religious organizations receive tax exemptions for their philanthropic causes, which are admirable, if not for their motivation but at least for their effects. But section 501 c also classifies the “advancement of religion” as a charitable cause. Does it make sense to group the advancement of religion with things such as relief for the poor, the defense of civil rights, and the elimination of discrimination?

Let us consider what the advancement of religion is. It is nothing short but indoctrination, regardless of whether or not you agree with the ideology. To indoctrinate is to instill within one a belief, or to espouse a certain teaching. I am confident that there is no religious person out there who would disagree with the fact that religion does espouse a certain teaching. The government of the United States, defined as secular, therefore cannot be partisan to the promulgation of the teachings of any and all religion. Income of the denominations of God that is spent on conversion, missionary work, building and maintaining places of worship, paying clergy, and other expenses and income devoted to the activities of faith are not charitable and should not be tax deductible. And by simple extension, donations given to religion that aid the previously mentioned activities will not be tax deductible. It should not be considered a charitable cause to aid in the act of indoctrination.

Consider this quandary. What qualifies as a religion? Who is to say that I may not start the Church of the Banana, whose followers devote themselves to the worship of the holy Cavendish? Nobody, of course. It is the beauty of living in a free and democratic state that I may choose to worship or not to worship any deity I choose. But, if I spread the ideology of the Church of the Banana, I am advancing religion, and therefore, my activities are currently tax deductible. After all, the worship of the banana, whose existence is unquestionable, is no more illogical than the worship of the hundreds of deities whose existence is questionable. If the government begins choosing what may and may not be considered a religion, then it violates its stance as a secular organization by being partial to certain religions. Either the government provides tax exemptions to every haphazard cult, or it provides exemptions to none of them. The only logical and reasonable way to resolve the issue and maintain the secular state is to provide the exemption to no religious organizations.

We now move to the second issue at hand: the involvement of religion in politics. Obviously, no law may prevent voters or politicians from voting based on a religious ideology, but laws must be put in place to prevent institutional religion from intervening in secular government. At stake here is a massive lobbying organization, and a bureaucracy which may apply the “morals” it finds in its religious texts to politics. There has been no greater obstacle to the extension of civil liberties to the homosexuals of the world than the staunch opposition of religion, which finds itself free to influence the machinery of government.

The Internal Revenue Service currently defines what is considered partisan action. We ask that this definition be applied to all religious organizations without exception. This means that institutions of faith cannot endorse a specific candidate or show preferential treatment to a specific candidate, and that clerics cannot use their pulpit to endorse a party or politician. Furthermore, it means that religion cannot lobby, its money must be kept out of the political process.

Now, one cannot deny the philanthropic merit of certain endeavors carried out by faith organizations. And we certainly do not. This is why money put forward by religion that advances causes that are actually charitable will be considered tax deductible, and donations to faith organizations that advance these causes will be considered tax deductible. I would like to point out that this is stance taken by nearly every other developed democratic nation in the world, including the European Union as a whole, and it has in no way injured the vitality of religion within these nations, if this is a concern. To suppress the dogma of religion is not the purpose of this bill. Instead, we hope to ensure the purity of the secular state and its ability to carry out decisions with the minimal influence of theism. Together, we can rebuild and strengthen Jefferson’s wall of separation that is the hallmark of a truly modern state.
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