The Instigator
AMBagoli
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points
The Contender
aaroncoleman
Con (against)
Losing
15 Points

"Places of Worship" should be taxed?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/25/2007 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,561 times Debate No: 986
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (10)

 

AMBagoli

Pro

Personal Note: I began this debate after flipping channels and seeing televangelists and churches begging that they receive donations of upward to around $1000 insisting that god will bless everybody who donates to the church with a miracle 10 times greater. Anyways, religious debate aside, lets discuss the law....should these churches pay taxes for the thousands (if not millions) they are receiving?

MY ASSUMPTIONS:
A.) "Places of worship" is defined as - a location where people are welcome to gather in adoration for a particular idea (sometimes understood as the concept of god).
B.)To "worship" is defined as - to idolize: love unquestioningly and uncritically or to excess; venerate as an idol.
C.) Religious buildings (such as a catholic church, or a Islamic mosque, Hindu Temple, etc) of any culture/religion/denomination are all by definition "places of worship".

MY POSITION:
To be more specific, my position is as follows: Religious institutions should not be exempt from the law (taxation), merely because they are a "place of worship".

MY ARGUMENT:
A building merely devoted to the adoration of an idea, whatever that idea may be (and whether it has any religious relevance or not is of no consequence) is no different than for example a GYM where people work out. People who attend gyms attend with the intent to enact particular physical and mental activities in order to replicate what they believe is an ideal human body upon themselves. In contemporary "places of worship" people engage in physical (kneeling and praying)---though not as extreme as gyms--- and psychological activities in pursuit of replicating an idea upon themselves or to mimic the idea within themselves whether it be Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed, etc. However, in contemporary "places of worship" people focus more psychologically on this idea. We have other institutions, however, such as private schools and universities which exhibit psychological focus on an idea but are not exempt from taxation.

note: Schools are institutions which I would argue have a collective adoration for education or the idea that mankind should seek education.

Like any group of people, each culture or individual within a culture may idolize a particular idea. The Amish don't care for science, but anybody who has used a computer does, this is because they idolize different ideas which happen to have different aspects than the ideas we idolize. some people dont idolize physical fitness. some people do. some people dont idolize god. some people do. some people dont idolize education.....some people do. Religious views aside...is it possible to distinguish between a stack of bricks assembled for a church or a stack of bricks assembled for a gym or school?

In Conclusion: A building is a building is a building, and merely because it is distinguished as a contemporary "place of worship" by some people should not alleviate it from the rules all the other buildings have to play by (the law).
aaroncoleman

Con

AMBagoli,

Churches (places of worship) are often referred to as tax-exempt organizations; however, it is a misnomer to say a they does not pay taxes. Places of worship typically are required to pay many types of taxes, including but not limited to a variety of payroll taxes, sales taxes, property taxes on non-worship facilities, and even Unrelated Business Income Taxes (UBIT) paid on activities that are similar to those carried on by commercial, taxable entities. The only taxes that churches/places of worship are generally exempt from paying are federal and state income taxes on their profits, some employer-paid payroll taxes such as Unemployment and the Employment Training Tax (ETT), and property taxes on worship facilities.
Debate Round No. 1
AMBagoli

Pro

thats fine and forgive me, for i am not an accountant and am not familiar with the inner workings of our tax structure and do not know exactly which taxes that churches pay and which ones they do not, nor am i familiar with the nomenclature of the taxes; however, what i still feel is not an inaccurate statement is that churches are exempt from taxes more so than other establishments.

and even if you are correct in saying that churches are exempt from lets say employment training tax. i again would return to the question....why? should imams who take care of mosques be exempt from paying taxes for being "trained" (whatever training that might be i cant imagine) merely because they are holy? or what of satanists? if you were to take their perspective, they are doing no different than what a priest of god or an imam or mullah of Islam are doing, which is worshiping their deity. should satanists be exempt from training their priests or any tax for that matter....any? my answer is no.

a church much like a motivational speaker organization does nothing more than provide a product. merely because that product is not physical is of little consequence. again, when one walks into a gym, you don't walk away with some of the weights you were using inside. it is a service. like a massage for the mind. some people dont like mosque, thats fine. some people dont like church, thats fine. some people dont like going to the gym, again that is fine as well.

but a church is not like a charity. in fact, i feel that the only money that churches should be exempt from paying taxes on is the money that is used as a charity. however, not all places of worship are comprised of philanthropists, and not all holy places give away money. some don't give away any money for that matter. one must not confuse a church with the red cross.

if a church behaves as the red cross, then that is fine and they should have all the exemptions of the red cross. but not all religious establishments are, so they do not deserve to be exempt from any tax just like a gym should not be exempt from any tax.
aaroncoleman

Con

I think I understand where you are going with this. And believe me, as a matter of national security, I would not want anyone operating under the "non-profit" status to plan harm for our country. However, I feel that what you are proposing would be more of a legislation through taxes. If there is an organization operating under a non-profit status while planning harm to us, then taxing them would be the least of our worries. If I misunderstood your implication I apologize. Churches are exempt from federal taxes only if they apply for a 501(c)(3) exemption and agree to certain the following conditions:

* The organization must be organized and operated
exclusively for religious, educational, scientific, or other
charitable purposes,
* Net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any
private individual or shareholder,
* No substantial part of its activity may be attempting
to influence legislation,
* The organization may not intervene in political
campaigns, and
* The organization's purposes and activities may not
be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.

If the above are met, then the "church" would be a non-profit entity. If the Church of Satan would not be able to comply with these, that would be something they could answer.

As for the analogy about the gym and the weights... I agree, in part, with what you are saying. However, they are not providing a product, rather a service. And many of the church goers would disagree with you and say they do get to take the "weights" home with them spiritually speaking. Also consider that any monetary donation, i.e. income, (or really any donation) has already been taxed as part of an individual's federal and state income tax.
Debate Round No. 2
AMBagoli

Pro

i think we have both said pretty much all there is to say about this topic without getting ridiculously unnecessarily complicated. however i would like to address this quote:

"Also consider that any monetary donation, i.e. income, (or really any donation) has already been taxed as part of an individual's federal and state income tax."

now, if one were to take this statement as an underlying premise or at the very least a substantiation for the "pro" position (places of worship should be tax exempt) for why "places of worship" should be tax exempt, then i believe we have a problem. EVERY service or product, even drugs, are paid for with taxed income (at least supposedly). gyms get their revenue from other people's taxed income... gas stations get their revenue from other's taxed income... EVERYBODY does. so again i raise the question, why should places of worship be exempt from this legal obligations that all other establishments of this nature have to abide by?

i have only one more issue to address. you have outlined the the tax rules/exemptions very exquisitely, however, my point is that churches, synagogues, the "church of satan", or w/e do not deserve this privilege based on my previous arguments which i have tried to design to demonstrate how the nature of the existence of "places of worship" is no different than most commercial service-based-businesses.

thank you for humoring me by engaging in this debate. i was afraid that either nobody wold debate this point or that i would get a dummy to argue against. just want to say thanks for the opportunity to debate with you in a very civilized manner.
aaroncoleman

Con

I also appreciate the opportunity. Like you said previously, I think we have covered all bases without painfully involving tax professionals. I am a bit confused about one previous statement...

"now, if one were to take this statement as an underlying premise or at the very least a substantiation for the "pro" position (places of worship should be tax exempt) for why "places of worship" should be tax exempt, then i believe we have a problem."

If you are stating that the pro position is 'places of worship should be tax exempt' then I have been substantiated your argument. In closing, churches of all types actually do pay quite a few taxes. Maybe just not the popular ones... Anyway, I want to thank you as well. I look forward to future run-ins.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by AMBagoli 9 years ago
AMBagoli
ooops....

"now, if one were to take this statement as an underlying premise or at the very least a substantiation for the "pro" position (places of worship should be tax exempt) for why "places of worship" should be tax exempt, then i believe we have a problem."

i meant to put "con" where i put "pro". i realize it didnt make sense after i read it.
Posted by AMBagoli 9 years ago
AMBagoli
yes, but are they taxed the same? that is what we are debating.
Posted by CoKeCaN 9 years ago
CoKeCaN
The debate is, should places of worship be taxed?? The fact is, they are. Con lays it out... case closed. NEXT!!
Posted by aaroncoleman 9 years ago
aaroncoleman
AMbagoli,

I was responding to Scyrone's comments. I know you weren't bashing religion...
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
I think that churches should lose their tax-exempt status not because of televangelist preachers; rather they should lose it because they've become political organizing grounds which is a complete violation of the laws governing their tax-exempt status and there's hardly anyone policing it or enforcing it.
Posted by AMBagoli 9 years ago
AMBagoli
this debate is not here to shoot down any particular church or faith based establishment such as "the church of satan", i wanted to merely demonstrate how any building designed for any religion or w/e do not deserve any exemptions from tax.

i did not intend to bash any faith or w/e.
Posted by aaroncoleman 9 years ago
aaroncoleman
I am glad you clarified what Satanist worship... I was worried for a second. Anyway, if they can abide by the rules set forth by the IRS (which do not seem overly complicated.. for once!!) then they would be classified as a non-profit organization, thus fed. income tax exempt. The only problem I can see is they would have to accept the term "church". But if I am not mistaken, they are called The Church of Satan, so they likely are tax exempt as well.
Posted by AMBagoli 9 years ago
AMBagoli
the "deity" in the below quote is a reference to what i earlier explained in the arguments as an "idea". the deity in his case is the "idea of god".

i feel that most rational beings can agree that he is an idea that is not completely understood at the very least, thus my insistence on the word idea rather than god.
Posted by Scyrone 9 years ago
Scyrone
"or what of satanists? if you were to take their perspective, they are doing no different than what a priest of god or an imam or mullah of Islam are doing, which is worshiping their deity. should satanists be exempt from training their priests or any tax for that matter....any? my answer is no."

Just a reference note. Satanists do not have deity, they do not worship anything higher than themselves, and they have no "place of worship" or "Church building" of sorts.
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