Top Pro & Con Arguments
Exempting churches from taxation contributes to the public good.
Churches earn their tax exemption by contributing to the public good through offering numerous social services to people in need, including soup kitchens, homeless shelters, afterschool programs for poor families, assistance to victims of domestic violence. These efforts relieve government of doing work it would otherwise be obliged to undertake.
Thus, poor and disadvantaged people relying on assistance from their local churches would suffer if churches were to lose their tax-exempt status. According to Vincent Becker, Monsignor of the Immaculate Conception Church in Wellsville, NY, the food and clothing programs his church offers would be threatened by a tax burden: “All of a sudden, we would be hit with something we haven’t had to face in the past…. We base all the things that we do on the fact that we do not have to pay taxes on the buildings.” Crucial services would either be eliminated or relegated to cash-strapped local governments if churches were to lose their tax exemptions.
Samuel Spector, Rabbi at Salt Lake City’s Congregation Kol Ami, speaks to the controversy about a few churches that are incredibly wealthy and considered to be taking advantage of their tax-exempt status to get richer. He explains, “I completely support it [tax exempt status]…. If another synagogue somewhere else gets a $20 million donation, that’s wonderful. But that doesn’t have any impact on us whatsoever. Without that tax-exemption status, we would be unable to provide those services [food banks, shelter, etc.] because as it is, we have to struggle to survive. More power to Latter-day Saints and other faith groups that are right now doing financially very well, but that is not the situation of your average rural church or your average synagogue.”Read More