Sunday, August 30, 2015
Americans Are Split On Whether Churches Should Be Taxed
I have to admit that I was a little surprised at the results of this survey. I had expected that a significant majority of the United States public would think that churches (and other religious organizations) should be exempt from paying taxes (as they currently are. But that is not true. They are split right down the middle on the matter -- with 40% saying they should be taxed and 40% saying they should not be taxed (and 20% who don't know what to think).
I was also surprised by the demographic breakdown of those who believe either way. I had expected men to want them taxed over women, and younger people wanting them taxed more than older people. That was just the opposite of what the survey showed. It turns out that by a small percentage, men support the tax exemption while women support taxing them -- and younger people support exemption while older people support taxation.
I think churches should be taxed. They are exempted because they are considered to be charities, but I don't see them doing that much charitable work (and I don't consider spending money to convince others to accept their particular brand of religion to be charitable work). And I certainly don't see helping a religious leader to live the life of a rich person to be charitable.
I could see allowing churches to get a deduction for true charitable spending that some of them do (such as feeding or housing the poor), but the rest of their income, not spent for that charitable work or to pay their true expenses (such as utilities) should be subject to taxation -- and they should pay property taxes on any property not used for true charitable work.
I see no reason why religion should be given a free ride in this country -- and it looks like 4 out of 10 Americans agree with me (and an equal amount disagree). We have a secular government established by a secular constitution, and those who are not religious should not have to pay more in taxes to make up for what religious organizations do not pay.
These numbers come from a new YouGov Poll -- done between August 24th and 26th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, and has a margin of error of 4.4 points.
Another interesting question in the survey is illustrated in the charts below. It seems that a significant majority (62%) think it is NOT acceptable for a religious leader to become wealthy through their religious activities (like many preachers, especially the TV preachers, do).