Taxing Churches


Written by a former minister, and worth a read:

In nearly every city in America, there are giant churches sitting on prime real-estate or agricultural land and they pay absolutely nothing in property tax even though they benefit from taxpayer-funded services like roads, law enforcement, schools, and fire protection. In most cities, when churches sponsor evangelical activities, they demand and receive police officer-assisted traffic control and often block off public streets for their events. Who pays for the police officer’s overtime pay for such events? Taxpayers foot the bill with property and sales tax dollars that they are not exempt from paying because they are not special and are not doing god’s work.


  • Cuttlefish

    I like what Ed posted the other day–Garfield’s (the president, not the cat) concise statement that if you exempt a church, you are effectively taxing the whole community.

  • comfychair

    “Churches are people, my friend!”

  • abear

    Yes my friend, churches and corporations are people, but unlike normal people Jesus doesn’t want them to pay taxes.

  • etcetera

    We should do as France does and make all churches de facto State property. The churches can do their churchy stuff, but any public group can apply to use the space and they are otherwise treated as museums, art galleries and cinemas.

  • Brandon O’Hara

    I agree that churches need to pay real estate taxes (possibly also a waste of space tax), but I believe that they pay off-duty police for the traffic direction services they provide. Although, that might only be for weekly services and not at a large church sponsored event as, on a second reading I notice, seems to be being described above.

  • fastlane

    Brandon, there is no consistent way to say what churches do. I know in KS, some of the big churches (aka six-flags-over-jeebus) got all the traffic control they wanted for free, and other perks like easy zoning permits…

    On the other hand, a few blocks away, the small community church that just happened to be in a poor black neighborhood would have a hard time getting a permit to use the neighboring park for a church potluck.

    Some cities/counties collect property taxes from churches (often at a greatly reduced rate), so it depends on where one lives as to how much of your taxes might be subsidizing the local witchdoctors.

  • lucy

    In my opinion, even worse than the fact that they don’t pay taxes is the fact that they don’t have to file anything with the IRS or report the income coming in or how they spend it like EVERY OTHER nonprofit with more than $25,000 of receipts/year does. Why should churces be exempt from *at least* providing some basic financial information so that the public can see how they spend the donations they get?

  • HeyLanny

    Reading all of the posts I have to ask what happened to the constant reminder to Christians about separation of Church and state?

    Give to government that which is governments (more everyday) and give to God that which is God’s. We are in the world, but defiantly are not of the world.

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