Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Tax Season For The Heathen

Last week, as I was filling out my 2005 tax return, I noticed a lot of stipulations regarding church involvement: “Do you work for a church? If so, skip line 7 and proceed to throwing this form in the bin. We don’t tax God’s people.”

OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But not by much.

I’m tired of attention-seeking zealots saying that
Christianity is being attacked and discriminated against in America.

Just remember this, my faithful friends: Not everyone gets to enjoy tax-exempt status as you do. So quit whining, you ungrateful bastards.

Not too long ago in Florida, a Christian theme park called
The Holy Land Experience went to court to contest its property taxes. It won the case and was able to shift its tax burden back to ordinary taxpayers.

A theme park, with admission ticket, merchandising and concessions revenue, doesn’t have to pay taxes? One with a locust plague simulator and an interactive “stone the heretic” exhibit where guests get to knock the noggin off condemned “animatronic” characters? Holy shit.

Next Disney will declare Mickey Mouse a “god“ to get out of paying taxes. Stranger things have happened.

The reason for exempting religious institutions from paying taxes has never been clear to me. Is it that they’re ostensibly doing something “good” for people? I’d ask Catholic sexual abuse victims how much good the church did them. It's no given.

Is “goodness” the reason Bush has pushed “faith-based” prisons, where the rapes and stabbings are done in strict accordance with Old Testament precedent? Hmm.

Were some Christian organizations to have their
tax-exempt status rescinded, I imagine millionaire Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson would declare that the IRS was going to be “taken out” by God.

“Now folks, I’d be worried if I were the Internal Revenue Service, waving a tax form in God’s face like that. They may be looking at some earthquakes, floods or possibly a meteor from God here as a result. As the very least, they can expect Sick Building Syndrome to afflict them right around tax time (April 17). God doesn’t want His monies divvied up and itemized like that.”

It’s as big a crime not to tax a theme park or the disgustingly wealthy Catholic church (among others) as it is not to tax the disgustingly wealthy British Royals while saddling their subjects with huge taxes. (Are they still on a free ride over there? I haven’t kept up with the Windsors.)

To churches and church-oriented institutions I say this: You folks may cheat death via eternal life, but you shouldn’t be able to cheat your way out of contributing financially to the society you’re seeking to co-opt. Buck up and pay your taxes like everyone else.


Anonymous said...

This is a difficult one. There are obviously some abuses of the system. Do you establish an earnings threshold? (If your church takes in 1 million or more you have to pay. If your church owns over a million in assets you have to pay.) Televangelists should be taxed just for cluttering the airwaves with their blather. The big mega-churches should be taxed for clogging the roads on Sundays. Can we impose a hypocrisy tax for those who espouse views to which they consistently fail to adhere? Child-molesting religious officials should be taxed corporally.
People of faith should remember that they elect to participate in a religion but that is their choice – their cross to bear. It is not the obligation of everyone in society to bear the weight of that faith.

Pete Bogs said...

your last two sentences say it all for me... I don't know why they're tax-exempt, but whatever the reason, I don't want to help support them... I'd rather have my money go to something I believe in...

The Flabbergasted Heathen said...

Well Bogs, why not cross the two? (sorry about the pun)

Have a tax level set up on religious organizations based on the amout of work they do for the community.

I saw a church when I was in Hillbilly country that was just about as poor as I was at the time. Yet they always managed to hold free day care, and feed their parishoners on Sundays. This area was POOR, but the guy running the place was willing to give up his own salary to help those less fornutate in his community. I'm a heathen, but I helped repair the place with him. For that kind of selflessness, it was the least I could do. Exempt that place from taxes.

The new Morman temple with 24k gold ceilings? Tax the hell out of 'em!

Pete Bogs said...

flab - that makes sense... it's the ornate temples and cathedrals, the hypocritical figures like Robertson and Falwell, and the theme parks(!) that concern me... sounds like the church you describe it living up to its Christian ideals... too many are not...

Blue said...

I agree - the whole 'tax free' thing began because the church was using the money to help the community, parish schools, community centres etc. When the subject of taxes came up in a big way - the Vatican became its own country.

We have the loverley situation in Oz where a new political party was formed just before the last election 'Family First' - they claim 'No Affiliation' with the AOG (Assembly of God) church, yet examination shows a $250,000 donation to the party by the church - from their Tax free Income - that shits me.

When we have the nice middle class christian wankers trying to get rid of benefits for single mums - cause they should have stayed married (even if he beat you - god says thats ok apparently)....

etc etc you get the idea. This article gave me an idea re: donations politicking by tax exempt charities/churches.....

Mr Q said...

Just let me open my own church and get the tax benefit. It will be similar to vodoo, cigar smoking, single malts, blends welcome too, libs, dems, reps and quacks. Whatever it takes to evade taxes is ok. The name of the church will be:
in memory of other stuff that is good.

fatty ~ said...

well, the country's religion is techniquely Christianity so yeh... its not neccessarily the Christians that a pushing for tax cuts and benefits.

yes - community service should be appreciated no matter where it comes from.

However, not all Christians press their faith onto others, but they do want people to accept and tolerate their opinions and views.
The problem i find is that once a politican/anyone announces their faith, their views are discounted as being preachy and loony.
Just thinking of certain politicans in the RU486 debate in Aust.

sorry to bring this up - but someone has to say it.

Pete Bogs said...

BB - sorry to hear that the single mum issue is the same down in Oz... that's a classic conservative stance here... get married, stay married... it's not as simple as that, but they have permanent tunnel vision...

fatty - there's still a crusade in this country to declare America a Christian nation, and base our laws on it... we're actually a diverse nation that is best served by a non-religious system of laws... it's great for public figures (or anyone else) to have their own beliefs; however, when they start talking about "faith-based initiatives" as Bush has (preferential treatment to religious organizations), that's not something a lot of us want to be a part of...

The Flabbergasted Heathen said...

What the western governments have to learn to understand is that the seperation of church and state doesn't mean that the government has to actively attack religion. If a kid wants to pray in class, hell, all the more power to him. If a teacher wants to join in, why not?

But if the school makes the kids pray, or schedules prayer sessions, then you're asking for trouble.

ffff said...

First of all apparently the Brits have finally made the Windors pay tax.
Secondly I presume because of the way the USA was settled (by the Pilgrims) that they wanted to make sure that Britain did not get their money so they made a proviso that churches were exempt.
Thirdly Australia is now following in USA footsteps in blurring the line between faith and politics. Now most pollies are espousing their beliefs due to the encouragement of our PM and his "be afraid of Muslims" propaganda. So we know our Health minister is a Catholic, our PM an Anglican, etc The so called "Family First" ( but only if you are their kind of family) has heightened its profile through the past popularity of , guess what?, a winner of the competition to find Australian Idol, Guy Sebastian. All the little AOG people got out there to vote for him and so the very same people voted for the AOG candidate.

If the Mormons or whoever want their followers to pay the tithe (10%) then that should be enough for the churches. If they do extra good works ( feed the hungry, house the poor) then the state should be supporting that on behalf of all of us including us heathens.

Separation between Church and State is vital for a vigorous democracy or we have not a leg to stand on if the Mulims would like to introduce a little bit of Sharia law into our communities and I would have to wear it ( pardon the pun) as I now do the Christian bullshit of prayer in the Houses of Parliament. ( Seen the way these Christians treat each other.. and the lies told?)

Pete Bogs said...

I see now why John Howard is so derided by Aussies, and why Bush considers him such a good friend... they're birds of a feather (with apologies to Bird, and all birds!)

"Family First" sounds straight out of the American fundamentalist South... scary... and insulting to single guys like me... does that mean I come last???

if churches genuinely focus on feeding the hungry, clothing the poor and helping the sick, wonderful... some of them could help more by not having those elaborate, decadent cathedrals... beautiful architecture, some of them, but that money could be put to better use... I could do a blog on that alone sometime...