Yes, it is time for religion to start paying its taxes because preachers, ministers, rabbis, preists, etc. frequently break the law when it comes to their tax exempt status:
Religious organizations are given consent to declare themselves non-profit charitable organizations by simply signing and filing 501 (c)(3) papers with the Internal Revenue Service. They, unlike other non-profits, are exempt from keeping accounting records, and the only requirement to be exempt from paying taxes is that they refrain from endorsing, preaching against, or supporting any candidate from the pulpit. However, religious groups around the country break their agreement with the IRS with impunity, and it has prompted a group in Wisconsin to say enough.
The group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the IRS for failing to audit thousands of churches that violated federal tax law by engaging in partisan advocacy. The lawsuit alleges, “The Internal Revenue Service, under the direction of the Defendant Shulman, has followed and continues to follow a policy of non-enforcement of the electioneering restrictions of §501(c)(3) against churches and other religious organizations. As a result, in recent years, churches and religious organizations have been blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions of §501(c)(3), including during the presidential election year of 2012.” Back in October, in a flagrant violation of 501(c)(3) rules, over 1,600 preachers engaged in Pulpit Freedom Sunday and actively campaigned from the pulpit to challenge the IRS rules that allow them to leach money from taxpayers.
Here’s what Pulpit Freedom Sunday is all about:
The future of religious freedom depends on a free pulpit to communicate fundamental, biblical principles to congregations across America. Join a growing movement of bold pastors preaching biblical Truth about candidates and elections from their pulpits on October 7, 2012.
It seems to be a clear cut violation – so make churches pay.
What would happen if churches had to pay taxes like everyone else? According to this article:
the church in America saves roughly 71 billion dollars annually by being tax-exempt. Imagine how much food that could buy to feed the hungry, or how it could help those less fortunate. This might be acceptable if the church was actually encouraging strategies to reduce human suffering, irresponsible behavior that harms others, ending violence in our neighborhoods and other critical issues. Churches do not serve the common good; they propagate ancient supernatural mythology that brainwashes people into believing the unbelievable and impedes social and scientific progress.
$71 billion! Yes, churches should start paying taxes.