People can get away with a lot in the name of religion. And that does not necessary bother me. I am all for the fundamental right of freedom of religion expression.
But religious institutions get away with not paying their fair share of tax. That is wrong, and here are just a few reasons why:
a) Churches finances are frighteningly unaccountable. Even non-profit organizations pay taxes, and are subject to the scrutiny of the IRS (US) / CRA (Canada).
b) Large religious institutions make billions of dollars in profit every year. The American Catholic church alone makes more than $150 billion dollars a year (1).
Archdiocese of Chicago alone reported that its total cash and investments were valued at 2.5 billion last year. These institutions dwarf countless law-abiding, tax-paying corporations.
No good reason they should not be taxed equally.
c) If some religions are tax-exempt, they *all* need to be tax exempt. It is fundamentally unjust that the state deems some religions as legitimate, and not others (e.g. atheist groups).
All should be treated equal in the eyes of the law.
Churches should pay taxes just like everybody else.
**Edit 1** : Thanks for the great response! Brand new to Reddit, so this is all a little overwhelming.
Common Rebuttals Include:
> Churches are charitable. Don't tax them!
Well, so are lots of large [corporations](http://www.forbes.com/sites/causeintegration/2014/10/07/10-companies-donating-the-most-through-giving-programs/).
Last year Goldman Sachs gave over 262 million to charity. That is not a good reason not to tax them.
Individuals get tax write offs. I wouldn't be opposed to churches getting tax rebates for charitable activities. But they must pay their fair share of taxes **first**.
> If you tax churches the smaller ones will have to close down.
I don't deny this. But we treat corporations and small businesses the same way.
Simply stating the fact that some churches will shut down is not a good reason that they should get away with not paying their fair share in taxes.
> You're infringing on my freedom of religious expression!
No, I am really not. You still have the same freedom of religious expression. I am not requesting taxation on the expression, rather, the institution.
I just don't believe it is fair that institutions legally withhold *billions* from the government just because they hold specific beliefs.
Believe what you want, but pay your fair share.
**Tl;dr** Large religious institutions get away with not paying their fair share of taxes. That's unfair.
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