Wouldn't taxing the churches go a long way toward balancing the federal budget?  Shouldn't we atheists be pushing for this?

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I commented on this issue somewhere, maybe Facebook.. And someone said that church money is donated and so therefore it has already been taxed... But don't people get tax deductions for their donations? I don't really understand the issue but I do think churches should either be taxed or not allowed to make any political statements, let them choose which.

In theory churches are not supposed to make political statements, if they wish to keep their tax exemptions (in the USA).  In practice they do so routinely and the IRS has of late refused to enforce that rule.  (And yes, this is the IRS nearly four years after Obama assumed office.)   In fact there is a "civil disobedience" movement amongst pastors, where they go ahead and make political statements and basically dare the IRS to come after their churches.

Ideally, churches would be subject to the same tax rules as everyone else (then, at least they could sound off about politics if they wanted to).  To the extent that they spend the money on actual charitable activities, they could deduct that from their income, just like any other business.

Even if all money that went to churches (regardless of what they spent it on) were to be taxed, as pointed out earlier, this would amount to 71 billion dollars in tax revenue (assuming, of course that imposing such a tax would not alter the size of churches' income from what it is today--by the way the Congressional Budget office always makes the assumption that a change in tax rate will not affect economic activity in any way--I can't really blame them for that because it would be much harder to model otherwise--but I do wish people who trot out their estimates would remember that fact).  When put up against the 1327 billion dollar deficit, though, you can see that although it would certainly help, it would not help a whole lot.

Erin, I know I'm about six months late, weighing in on this, but yes, you are right, donations to churches are tax deductible, but I think what they are saying, is that the donor has paid income tax on the money, and therefore, it has already been taxed. The fallacy there, is that the same could be true of states that charge sales tax - since the money was taxed when it was earned by the consumer, how can it fairly be taxed again when one buys something? The store then has to also pay taxes on the money it took in for the purchase, money that has already been taxed twice.

Other than religious exemption - which in a rational world, wouldn't pass church and state separation - there is no valid reason why churches should not be taxed. No matter how you package it, when you sell shit, it's a product, and the fact that your price is a donation, rather than a fixed figure, should have no bearing on taxation.

fyi - no comment yet.

This is my favorite idea so far for balancing the budget.  If nothing else, just for the entertainment value.



"So let’s think of the US as an average household family."

You use a faulty analogy; a household family, average or not, is not responsible for their community's economic well-being. The US government is responsible for the nation's economic well being.

The free market is not up to the task.

1) In America, the unfree market has always been subsidized by taxpayers. To begin educating yourself, get on the Internet and search on "Yazoo land fraud".

2) The market has given the nation numerous recessions and depressions. People starved to death and the government that since 1787 has used taxes on everyone to subsidize business started during the 1930s taxing workers to provide a seriously limited amount of retirement income. In this matter as in so many others, America ranks well below other modern economies.

And this, the so-called American work ethic isn't up to competing with the Chinese work ethic. A government that has for so long favored employers and opposed employees loses the support of employees. Until FDR, American communists were employees' only allies.

You are quite correct to be angry at corporate welfare.

But this is *exactly* what the stimulus plans passed to date have been--and yes that was before the Republicans did their best to put a stop to the bullshit.  Several hundred thousand dollars spent for each job claimed to have been created.  That money wasn't given to people, it was given to...  anyone?  anyone?  Corporations!  Oh sure, the subsidies were given to "green" companies (instead of the sorts of companies that get welfare from the republicans).  Corporate welfare is corporate welfare, and it doesn't make a damn bit of difference who's getting it.  In many cases the companies go belly up after having half a billion dollars given to them; wow that's half a billion dollars to create *no*--actually *negative* jobs.

I do think some Republicans' fixating on the tax rate as the cause of the slowdown, and fixating on keeping the rate from rising, misses a very important factor.  And so do attempts to stimulate the economy by spending tons of money we don't have.

The real reason jobs are not being created is because businesses have no idea what the business environment is going to be like six months or a year down the road.  If I hire someone, how many extra costs (many associated with "Obamacare") am I going to find myself having to pay, over and above his or her salary?  How many costs will be added in the future with little or no warning?  Why should I hire someone when I don't have any idea whatsoever how much it will cost to do so--particularly if it is going to cost me more and more money to lay them off?

Some companies are cutting employee hours now, to cut the number of hours an employee works below 30... because for purposes of these regulations, 30 is now "full time."  Changing it was supposed to help employees, but it sure looks like it's hurting them.

But let's get back to taxes.

For all the screaming and hollering that we in the US are undertaxed next to all of those welfare states in Europe... well have a look at this:


You will notice that by the time you combine capital gains and corporate income tax the percentage rate is over 50% in the US and it's already higher than many of the countries people here want us to emulate.  If the welfare states of western europe are a model, we should be trying to cut corporate taxes, not raise them!  Or look at table II here: http://accf.org/news/publication/an-international-comparison-of-cap...; you will see corporations here pay 35% capital gains and that's higher than Sweden, Canada, France, the UK... the only glaring exception is Germany.

Maybe those folks over in Europe have figured something out:  Maybe they know to keep the rates relatively low on entities that produce wealth.  Of course if you believe you can create wealth by simply borrowing money and passing it out as corporate welfare, this point will be lost on you.

A society cannot get prosperous by simply passing money around, more and more furiously..  Actual goods and services must be produced.  And that is being impeded by an explosion of regulation on both production and on hiring of employees, and by one of the most hostile-to-businesses tax codes in the developed world.  Which demagogues are screaming needs to be made worse.
It is a fact that the three biggest economic booms of the last century, the 20s, the 60s and the 80s, all began when taxes were cut--furthermore what was cut the most were the top rates.  (John F. Kennedy understood this, why can't anyone in his party today?) It is important. however, to cut them intelligently; cut the taxes that impede the flow of investment capital to corporations, and cut the taxes on the rewards for making correct economic decision.  If you don't do this, or worse you don't do this AND you also remove the consequences of failure for making bad economic decisions (e.g., free federal insurance for savings deposits in the late 80s S&L debacle, or have a quasi-government entity buy up crappy mortgages the instant they are created), you will find yourself bailing out a lot of really crappily run companies.


"The real reason jobs are not being created is because businesses have no idea what the business environment is going to be like six months or a year down the road."

Nonsense! When consumers have money and spend it, business owners have all the information they need to make hiring decisions.

You appear to believe in the fiction that a trickle-down economy works.

It doesn't; it uses money taken from taxpayers to make rich folks richer. They hire when sales income increases; until then they put their money where they pay as few taxes as possible.

You use too many words to make a case you don't defend.

Corporations pay relatively little tax, as churches are essentially corporations what makes you think you will be anymore successful at squeezing money out of their greedy, grasping hands as any other big business _ I hope you are not hoping to appeal to their "Christian Ethic" !

"Corporations pay relatively little tax" because, in this country at least, corporations buy the politicians who make the tax laws, and the tax law loopholes.

And, of course, almost all politicians are religious.

At least almost all politicians profess to be religious --


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