Should Churches be Tax-Exempt? part 1
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Should Churches be Tax-Exempt? part 1

It is very difficult to find a church that does not serve the flesh, eggs, or the milk of nonhumans. It is almost as difficult to find a church that will permit members to give formal presentations on the ethics and benefits of plant-based diets. Most churches, when asked, refuse permission to distribute CVA literature on their premises. As private institutions, churches are free to silence dissent on diet, theology, and other issues.  I think private institutions should be allowed to restrict membership and the views that are expressed on institutional property. Thatís a reflection of the Constitutional right to freedom of association. However, should such institutions have tax-exempt status?
 
Institutions benefit from tax-exempt status mainly because 1) donations to the organization are tax-deductible, encouraging donations; 2) the federal tax rate for income from stocks, bonds, and other investments is much lower for tax-exempt organizations (2%) than for private citizens and for-profit corporations; 3) the institution does not need to pay property taxes.
 
The general public sponsors tax-exempt institutions, since reducing one entityís tax invariably results in raising taxes for everyone else. Consequently, I think any entity that enjoys tax-exempt status should benefit the general public. Though I respect the right of private organizations to restrict free speech, I donít regard such restriction as desirable for the general public, and therefore I think there are good reasons to deny tax-exempt status for such institutions.
 
Should organizations with open membership and respect for free speech still have tax-exempt status? I would be very concerned that governments, with political agendas of their own, would be biased in deciding whether or not a given institution merited tax-exempt status. Who, then, should be tax-exempt? Iíll explore that question next essay. 


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