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Should churches pay tax?

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Atropos View Post
    Churches of major denominations don't operate independent of the parent church though, and the churches themselves, as institutions, have enormous wealth. This might be of interest-
    http://www.smh.com.au/business/churc...0404-rlmd.html
    All that article is saying is that many religious orgs manage their assets well.

    The average parish may own a few buildings- again using MIL's church as an example they own two churches- one is condemned and is losing them money and the other is expensive to keep. They own a building that they rent to an alternative school (not a religious school at all) and three terrace houses that they rent out to young people coming to study in melbourne who can't afford college. I imagine that's pretty standard- they're not exactly rolling in the cash that these properties are producing. It would probably be a good idea for someone at her church to figure out how to manage these assets better, I don't see the harm in that?

    As I said, I agree that religious orgs should pay taxes, I just take issue with the mentality that individual churches are all wealthy. Most of them are not at all. Most would seriously struggle if they had to start paying taxes, and many of the genuinely good works they do would come to a halt. There would be a pretty big flow on effect.

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    • #32
      No.

      But then I think compulsory taxation is morally equivalent to slavery, so I don't think anyone should be compelled to pay tax.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by FearlessLeader View Post
        All that article is saying is that many religious orgs manage their assets well.

        The average parish may own a few buildings- again using MIL's church as an example they own two churches- one is condemned and is losing them money and the other is expensive to keep. They own a building that they rent to an alternative school (not a religious school at all) and three terrace houses that they rent out to young people coming to study in melbourne who can't afford college. I imagine that's pretty standard- they're not exactly rolling in the cash that these properties are producing. It would probably be a good idea for someone at her church to figure out how to manage these assets better, I don't see the harm in that?

        As I said, I agree that religious orgs should pay taxes, I just take issue with the mentality that individual churches are all wealthy. Most of them are not at all. Most would seriously struggle if they had to start paying taxes, and many of the genuinely good works they do would come to a halt. There would be a pretty big flow on effect.
        I think you've misinterpreted my point. Some small churches that are independent perhaps struggle financially. The major players however, do not, as a whole- they own major assets and have ridiculous wealth that does not directly benefit anyone except those living within the confines of the institution- the Vatican is the best example of this. I cannot personally agree that they should be exempt from tax while they have so much wealth that they do not use to benefit communities.
        All business- small or large- pay tax. I don't think churches should be exempt unless it is only applicable to directly charitable works- but that applies to everyone performing charitable works- not just churches. I hope that makes sense

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        • #34
          Originally posted by duncan_bayne View Post
          No.

          But then I think compulsory taxation is morally equivalent to slavery, so I don't think anyone should be compelled to pay tax.
          Now THAT is a whole other thread

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Atropos View Post
            Now THAT is a whole other thread
            Indeed. But it was a necessary qualification, lest people mistake my answer for any sort of support for a free ride for religion.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Atropos View Post
              I think you've misinterpreted my point. Some small churches that are independent perhaps struggle financially. The major players however, do not, as a whole- they own major assets and have ridiculous wealth that does not directly benefit anyone except those living within the confines of the institution- the Vatican is the best example of this. I cannot personally agree that they should be exempt from tax while they have so much wealth that they do not use to benefit communities.
              All business- small or large- pay tax. I don't think churches should be exempt unless it is only applicable to directly charitable works- but that applies to everyone performing charitable works- not just churches. I hope that makes sense
              I think you've misinterpreted mine. I agree religious orgs should pay tax. I've said that the whole time. What I take issue with is calling religious orgs 'big business' and the idea that they can afford it without breaking a sweat. There would be ramifications. Perhaps that's just tough titties, but the school that rents from MIL's church would close down because they wouldn't be able to afford rent elsewhere. Some parishes wouldn't be able to afford a full time minister, which means that people who would otherwise go to their minister for counsel would fall through the cracks. A church may have to stop opening the doors after a sermon is over to invite everyone to stay for morning tea, because they need the revenue from a paying group using the space instead. So instead of staying to socialize, the congregation just goes home, losing an important opportunity to build social cohesion. There are loads of good works churches do that don't fall under 'charity', lots of intangible benefits that churches provide.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by FearlessLeader View Post
                There are loads of good works churches do that don't fall under 'charity', lots of intangible benefits that churches provide.
                Would you extend charitable status to all churches though, regardless of what they preached?

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by duncan_bayne View Post
                  Would you extend charitable status to all churches though, regardless of what they preached?

                  No I wouldn't. In fact once again I will state that I AGREE that churches should be taxed, and exempt for only what is deemed under law as charitable activities. I never said anything close to stating that churches should be classed as charitable orgs as a whole. All I'm saying is that churches do plenty of good work that is NOT deemed charitable. And I think they do it better in many cases than government could. But that doesn't mean I think they shouldn't pay taxes. It's just problematic, I don't know what the answer would be.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by nasalhaironfire View Post
                    I believe it's a lot higher than that. I think you are referring to the percentage of Australians who are actually church/mosque/synagogue/temple-goers.

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Australia
                    Yes apologies, only (apparently) about 20% are seriously religious.

                    Still, only 37% identify as being religious according to this article:

                    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-2...e-ride/4918626

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                    • #40
                      Yeah again, I'm not an economist but it seems clear that the lines have become very blurred between how religion is run as charity and as serious business which means they can take advantage of their tax-free status in order to profit as a business.

                      If individual churches are struggling in a community, then I think that's indicative that they no longer have the community support they once did.
                      Last edited by Ellewood; 11-04-2014, 17:50.

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                      • #41
                        The first real problem is the total lack of transperancy. Take Sanitarium, which makes about $300 million a year on which no tax is paid. Where does that money go? No one really knows, but I'd be pretty certain the lion's share funds the evangelical activities of this sect.

                        People often point to hospitals and schools run by churches, but these are inevitably independent business units that would in any case be classed as non-profits.

                        Why do archbishops get to live in mansions on which no land tax is paid and whose unpaid rental value is not subject to FBT?

                        Charities do not pay tax anyway, so the existence of Anglicare does not justify extending comprehensive tax exemptions to the entire Anglican Church, including its vast property trust business.

                        The list of anomalies is enormous, but given the opaque nature of most of these arrangements it is very easy for the churches to "defend" their status without ever providing concrete details about their business dealings and finances.

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