Top Pro & Con Arguments
Exempting churches from taxation forces taxpayers to subsidize religion, while costing the government billions in tax revenue.
A tax break for churches forces all American taxpayers to support religion, even if they oppose some or all religious doctrines. As Mark Twain argued: “no church property is taxed and so the infidel and the atheist and the man without religion are taxed to make up the deficit in the public income thus caused.”
Tax exemptions to secular nonprofits are justified because such organizations do work that would otherwise fall to government. Churches, while they may undertake charitable work, exist for religious worship and instruction, which the US government is constitutionally prevented from performing.
Exempting churches from taxation costs federal, state, and local governments billions of dollars in lost revenue, which they cannot afford, especially in tough economic times. According to former White House senior policy analyst Jeff Schweitzer, American churches own $300-$500 billion in untaxed property. New York’s nonpartisan Independent Budget Office determined in July 2011 that New York City alone loses $627 million in property tax revenue. Lakewood Church, a “megachurch” in Houston, TX, earns $75 million in annual untaxed revenue, and the Church of Scientology’s annual income exceeds $500 million.
Even Jared Walczak, Vice President of State Projects at the Tax Foundation, working to debunk the viral meme that the government is missing out on $76 billion to $85 billion in tax revenue, estimates “$11.6 billion in taxable income (neglecting deductions or exemptions), which would generate $2.4 billion in federal tax liability.”Read More