Skip to main content

View Diary: 71 Billion ? – Forget the Corporations, Tax the Churches (313 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  you are right about this (25+ / 0-)

    No charity would retain it's deduction if it gave as little back to the community as most churches.

    By the same token, no "separated" institution should remain "separated" when they engage in blatant political maneuvering.

    As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

    by BPARTR on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 07:21:11 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  So Amnesty International should pay taxes too? (4+ / 0-)

      What about the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force?

      Each of those organizations is also a tax-exempt nonprofit, and each of them does engage in action within the political sphere. This notion that only charities receive tax deductions is, to put it quite plainly, blatantly erroneous.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 07:47:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, according to the law, there are (30+ / 0-)

        restrictions upon the political activism that charitable entities can engage in. That is why the Sierra Club, for example, is not taxd exempt.

        Amnesty, BTW, doesn't meddle in elections, supporting or opposing candidates, etc., and I don't recall the NG&LTF openly doing so either.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 08:40:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, there are restrictions. (0+ / 0-)

          Those are restrictions that limit religious organizations as well. Religious organizations aren't allowed to support or oppose candidates, or engage in partisan political activity.

          They are, however, allowed to advocate on issues—a fact that makes me happy, since my church's participation in an interfaith coalition working for affordable housing has, in the past, helped preserve funds for such housing in the city budget. Were we not allowed to advocate on issues, more District residents might be homeless than currently (and shamefully) are.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 06:43:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It makes you soooo happy that others are (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            EdinStPaul, Pluto

            forced to pay for your activism? If chuirches wish to pretend to be charitable and to do good works, they should not demand that others foot the bill, they should be willing to pay themselves.

            That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

            by enhydra lutris on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 07:23:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Are you also complaining... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              misslegalbeagle

              ...about being "forced to pay for the activism" of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, or Amnesty International?

              Not one penny more comes out of your pocket for my church's work in the community, as would come out of your pocket were my church replaced with a nonprofit organization doing exactly the same advocacy work without a religious angle; please do direct me to what I'm sure are your numerous comments complaining about being "forced to pay for the activism" of non-religious organizations that advocate for the homeless or working people.

              Additionally, the fact that you think we're "pretending to be charitable," as if it's some kind of farce we're putting on to cover up our real agenda, is rather insulting to me—as you are directly suggesting that I, personally, in my work with my church on these issues, am somehow only "pretending" to care about them in service of my real agenda. Would you care to clarify your remarks, or do you stand by your insult?

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 07:32:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  If churches weren't explicitly written into the (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                enhydra lutris, blueoasis, Pluto

                tax law as exempt (like real charitable organizations), even if they weren't politically active, there's no way they'd qualify.  And that's the issue here beyond the issues of violating even the law that they're explicitly written into.

                The law requires that the organization be operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, to foster national or international amateur sports competition, to promote the arts, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.  Take "religious" out of that list, and how exactly do churches fit?

                "Religious" was lumped in with a bunch of actual charitable tasks.  "Religion" is only charitable if you actually believe in the tenets of said religion and that by doing their religious activities they're saving souls or whatnot.

              •  Read internal revenue code sections (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Pluto

                170, 500, 501 and the related regulations, especially as to the difference between 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) etc. organizations and the differences under section 170 between chuirches and charitible organizations.

                Churches get a free ride regardless of whether they do any charitable work or not.

                If a guy spots a homeless person and gives them $5 bucks out of empathy, that is charity. If a church collects 10 cents from each member in order to give that person 5 bucks, because that is what Jesus said they must do in order to get into heaven, that is, imho, tainted. Caritas isn't an act, but a feeling. When there is a quid-pro-quo it is pretty hard to tell from the outside if any caritas is present or not, all one can say is that they are acting as if, but also with a known incentive.

                That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                by enhydra lutris on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 10:01:48 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  This is precisely wrong. (0+ / 0-)

                  Love, especially agape, which is the Greek most often presented in scripture, is not a feeling. It is an action. Love is presented in its highest formulation as laying down our lives for one another. Not because we feel good about it, but precisely because it is the highest expression of love.

                  •  Unless the motive is to attain heaven and (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Pluto

                    avoid hell. Church rhetoric is one thng, human motives are another. Something about widow's mites passing through camels and needle exchanges, or something.

                    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                    by enhydra lutris on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 11:52:23 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, BTW, you are correct, I should have (0+ / 0-)

                said "act as if" and not "pretend", because the latter carries connotations that it is fakery, whilst the former does not. I apologize for the implication that it is certainly fakery, though not for the fact that nobody can tell, since there is a standing quid-pro-quo.

                That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                by enhydra lutris on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 10:11:45 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Taxes (0+ / 0-)

              My Income taxes go to pay for others activism - my Governments which spends the money in all too many places that I disagree.

              You don't have a say and never will.

              The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

              by ctexrep on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:54:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, everybody should pay taxes (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BPARTR, EdinStPaul, Pluto, jayden

        with possible exemptions for income devoted to bona fide charitable activities.  

        (the key word is "possible" - I'm not sure really why I should subsize others' pet projects).

        •  And who gets to define those activities? (0+ / 0-)

          What exactly would count as a "bona fide charitable activity"?

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 06:40:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  is that a serious question...? (0+ / 0-)
            •  Yes, it is. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              Because there are a lot of gray areas.

              One of the things my church does is participate in an interfaith coalition advocating at the city level for more budgets for city services for the homeless and working poor, for affordable housing, for a living wage. Is that charitable activity?

              What about renting out space at below-market rates to nonprofit organizations that do community outreach, mentoring, and the arts? Is that charitable activity?

              Is a theatre group that goes to city elementary schools and performs, or that runs an after-school program to get kids involved in plays, a charitable organization?

              Who gets to decide what is charitable, and what isn't?

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 07:36:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  well, go ahead and answer your question yourself.. (0+ / 0-)

                ...how are those decisions currently made, and by who?

                However, if you're just gonna keep fielding a series of rhetorical questions, I'll trade ya...

                You seem to focus on your church's engagement in advocacy - is that advocacy particularly effective? does your advocacy extend to implementation?

                Why does your church rent space to non-profits, rather than provide space for free?

                And, of course, why are you so focused on "charity"? Are you not aware that many beneficiaries see the labeling of services as "charity" as in a way demeaning?

                Meant friendly, and all...

                Cheers.

                 

                •  Those decisions are currently made... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...by making virtually all non-profit organizations, aside from those whose purpose is chiefly political, tax-free—thus removing the IRS from a position of micro-managing the question.

                  And the word "charity" was the one used in the parent comment to which I was replying; we don't use the word "charity" in our own advocacy. We refer to it as "justice."

                  "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                  by JamesGG on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:04:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Good answers, tho' the IRS's role in regulating... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...and ameliorating the misuses of non-profit status would seem to be better phrased as "appropriate regulation" rather than "micro-management".

                    Afterall, in the relatively rare circumstances that the IRS actually does step-in, the misuses of non-profit status tend to be fairly egregious. And "micro-management" is at best an over-blown characterization of the process.

                    And as the diary points out, there are potentially many misuses of non-profit status that seem to continue unabated. Achieving some appropriate regulation on that issue would seem to be a desirable outcome, and a position that many/most non-profits would be interested in supporting.

                    Cheers.

        •  I have been calling for a flat tax for years... (0+ / 0-)

          I believe there should be a Federal flat tax of 30% on ALL income regardless of how it is received (capital gains, inheritance, lottery, gift, etc...) to replace current progresive income tax, Social security and Medicare.  The only exemption would be the federal minimum wage times 2,080 for each adult and 1/3 of that for each child (or the federal determined poverty level).  The should be no other deductions.

          It seems like every day, we learn about another charity that was set up as a tax shelter which raises millions of dollars and gives practically nothing to the object of their supposed charter.  Churches are often the same in that they proclaim to be using money for feeding the poor or hospitals only to find out they are paying the ministers (especially TV evangelicals) 6 and 7 figure salaries and all of their living expenses.  Simplify the tax code, make evryone pay the same above a the basic resources to survive.  Charities, who are worthy, will still get enough money to survive because they are serving a higher purpose.

          "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

          by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 09:09:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If any tax exempt non profit (6+ / 0-)

        is found to be using its funds to buy off pedophiles I believe it should lose its tax exempt status.

        If the Republicans ever find out that Barack Obama favors respiration, we'll be a one-party system inside two minutes. - Alan Lewis

        by MadRuth on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 06:52:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site