Taxed to Support Churches

A new article in PoliticusUSA:

Hidden Tax: US Families Pay an Extra $1,000 per Year to Support Religion

The economic impact on taxpayers is substantial when considering that when churches avoid paying tax, the cost of maintaining roads, police and fire protection, and schools must be made up by everyone else. When the community picks up the tab for a church’s drain on the community, it is a subsidy and in violation of the separation of church and state. It has been estimated that when church and clergy tax-exemptions are taken into account, the average family may pay up to $1,000 in extra taxes every year to make up for the lost revenue because of the church’s tax exemption and it includes sales taxes, inheritance taxes, income taxes, and personal taxes.

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  • https://plus.google.com/118257424757120514940 Cass Morrison

    If I were USian and non religious I would be working to remove *this* more than the God talk on money and your Pledge. In Canada God is written into our Constitution, for better or worst, so the case is more difficult.

  • mck9

    The linked article quotes Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defense Fund:

    Pastors and churches shouldn’t live in fear of being punished or penalized by the government.

    That’s funny. Everybody else has to live in fear of being punished or penalized by the government. It’s called the “rule of law.”

    Apparently pastors and churches should be exempt from the law.

    • Constance Reader

      Well put, mck9.

  • http://sciencenotes.wordpress.com/ Markita Lynda, healthcare is a damn right.

    This kind of clear-eyed look at what religion costs the community is a result of the new atheism debate. “They do so much good”–visiting in hospitals whether you want them or not and handing out the occasional for that kind of subsidy they should do a lot more good. The excess goes into churchly pockets.

  • CW

    “It has been estimated” that 86.4% of statistics are made up on the spot.

    Is there a source for this $1000 claim?

    • https://plus.google.com/118257424757120514940 Cass Morrison

      I clicked through the links and there is no definitive calculation of how much of a subsidy of each citizen a church receives, just what public services they use for free as well as not paying property taxes. Do you think it’s less or that churches/clergy deserve every tax break possible so it’s irrelevant?

      • CW

        Do you think it’s less or that churches/clergy deserve every tax break possible so it’s irrelevant?

        I think nothing of the kind.

        Everyone in the country is paying taxes to take up the slack for the parasitic churches. That is enough. It is not necessary to invent a number. Just making shit up to support an argument is what they do, not what we do.

        • https://plus.google.com/118257424757120514940 Cass Morrison

          Totally agree, was just asking for clarity. I was surprised there was not even a back of the envelope style calculation.

        • https://plus.google.com/118257424757120514940 Cass Morrison

          I wanted to edit but couldn’t. It’s important not to make up facts because if you are shown to be wrong, regardless of an over or under-estimation, it diminishes the argument. It would have been better to list advantages and let the reader make the conclusion.

    • cag

      Included in the tax cost of religious tax breaks are the tax deductions for contributions to religious entities. For those suckers who tithe, this can be a substantial amount that others have to pay.

      • https://plus.google.com/118257424757120514940 Cass Morrison

        Perhaps tax reform would be enough to diminish churches. No tax free land use or special structure for church leaders, taxed income plus no tax break for tithers. How quickly could it fade?

  • Pierce R. Butler

    The PoliticusUSA piece cites this article from Austin Cline, who neglects to offer a single link or named source to back up specific claims like

    It is estimated that churches and other religious bodies may own anywhere between twenty and twenty-five percent of all of the land in the United States.


    The assets of the Roman Catholic church alone exceed those of the five largest American corporations combined and cash donations to churches total tens of billions of dollars every year.

    The links found at the bottom of the article don’t seem to provide any evidence either. :-P

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