The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

There should not be tax exemptions for Curches.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/8/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,709 times Debate No: 58709
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




I believe that there sould not be a tax exemption for Churches. Con must argue the opposite, of course:)


Tax exempt: To be free from, or not subject to, taxation by regulators or government entities.*

Some information about the topic:

US churches received an official federal income tax exemption in 1894, and they have been unofficially tax-exempt since the country's founding**. All 50 US states and the District of Columbia exempt churches from paying property tax. Donations to churches are tax-deductible. The debate continues over whether or not these tax benefits should be retained.

Acceptance first.


**Edwin S. Gaustad, Church and State in America, 2nd edition



I think they should because it takes money to build the churches and it is important to keep it clean with the taxes you pay
Debate Round No. 1


OK, First of all, I would like to thank leoley for accepting this debate and wish him good luck! It seems that he decided to start arguing from round 1-really no problem- so I have to start with the rebuttals:

"I think they should because it takes money to build the churches and it is important to keep it clean with the taxes you pay"

The main problem is that the money that all US citizens pay are not only used for building churches or keeping them clean. I hate to repeat the same things again and again so I advice you to read all the arguments (especially 7) and you'll relize why I support that.

1) Exempting churches from taxation costs the government billions of
dollars in lost revenue, which it cannot afford, especially in tough economic

According to former White House senior policy analyst Jeff Schweitzer,PhD, US churches own $300-$500 billion in untaxed property.New York's nonpartisan Independent Budget Office determined in July 2011 that New York City alone loses $627 million in property tax revenue. Lakewood Church, a "megachurch" in Houston, TX, earns $75 million in annual untaxed revenue, and the Church of Scientology's annual income exceeds $500 million.[6]

2) Tax exemptions for churches violate the separation of church and state enshrined in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution:

By providing a financial benefit to religious institutions, government is supporting religion. Associate Justice of the US Supreme court, William O.Douglas, in his dissenting opinion in Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York, decided May 4, 1970, stated: "If believers are entitled to public financial support, so are nonbelievers. A believer and nonbeliever under the present law are treated differently because of the articles of their faith…I conclude that this tax exemption is unconstitutional." [1]

3)A tax break for churches forces all American taxpayers to support religion, even if they oppose some or all religious doctrines:

As Mark Twain argued: "no church property is taxed and so the infidel and the atheist and the man without religion are taxed to make up the deficit in the public income thus caused." [2]

4) A tax exemption is a form of subsidy, and the Constitution bars government from subsidizing religion:

William H. Rehnquist, then-Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court,declared on behalf of a unanimous court in Regan v. Taxation with Representation (1983): "Both tax exemptions and tax deductibility are a form of subsidy that is administered through the tax system. A tax exemption has much the same effect as a cash grant to the organization of the amount of tax it would have to pay on its income." [3]

5) The tax code makes no distinction between authentic religions and fraudulent startup "faiths," which benefit at taxpayers' expense:

In spring 2010, Oklahoma awarded tax exempt status to Satanist group The Church of the IV Majesties. In Mar. 2004, the IRS warned of an increase in Schemes that "exploit legitimate laws to establish sham one person,nonprofit religious corporations" charging $1,000 or more per person to attend "seminars."The Church of Scientology, which TIME Magazine described in May 1991 as a "thriving cult of greed and power" and "a hugely profitable global racket," was granted federal income tax exemption in Oct. 1993. The New York Times reported that this "saved the church tens of millions of dollars in taxes."

6) Churches serve a religious purpose that does not aid the government, so their tax exemptions are not justified:

Tax exemptions to secular nonprofits like hospitals and homeless shelters are justified because such organizations do work that would otherwise fall to government. Churches, while they may undertake charitable work, exist primarily for religious worship and instruction, which the US government is constitutionally prevented from performing. [5]

7) American taxpayers are supporting the extravagant lifestyles of wealthy pastors, whose lavish "megachurches" accumulate millions of tax-free dollars every year:

US Senator Chuck Grassley, MA (R-IA) launched an investigation into these groups in Nov. 2007 after receiving complaints of church revenue being used to buy pastors private jets, Rolls Royce cars, multimillion-dollar homes, trips to Hawaii and Fiji, and in one case, a $23,000, marble-topped chest of drawers installed in the 150,000 square foot headquarters of Joyce Meyer Ministries in Fenton, Missouri. [7]

8) Churches receive special treatment from the IRS beyond what other nonprofits receive, and such favoritism is unconstitutional:

While secular charities are compelled to report their income and financial structure to the IRS using Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax), churches are granted automatic exemption from federal income tax without having to file a tax return. [8]

9) The tax break given to churches restricts their freedom of speech because it deters pastors from speaking out for or against political candidates:

As argued by Rev. Carl Gregg, pastor of Maryland's Broadview Church, "when Christians speak, we shouldn't have to worry about whether we are biting the hand that feeds us because we shouldn't be fed from Caesar/Uncle Sam in the first place." [9]

10) The "parsonage exemption" on ministers' homes makes already-wealthy pastors even richer at taxpayers' expense:

The average annual salary for senior pastors with congregations of 2,000 or more is $147,000, with some earning up to $400,000.In addition to the federal exemption on housing expenses enjoyed by these ministers, they often pay zero dollars in state property tax. Church leaders Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International had three tax-free parsonages: a million-dollar mansion in Atlanta, GA, a two-million-dollar mansion in Fayetteville, GA, and a $2.5 million Manhattan apartment.Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, leaders of Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Fort Worth, TX, live in a church-owned, tax-free $6.2 million lakefront parsonage. [10]

11) A tax exemption is not a right:

Governments have traditionally granted this privilege to churches because of the positive contribution they are presumed to make to the community. If a church or other religious group wanted to receive tax exemptions because of the charitable work they do, should they be required to make a case for that rather than benefit from the presumption that religion equals charity? It makes much more sense to see tax exemptions as a way to encourage organizations which work for the public benefit rather than personal profit and a means by which taxpayers put themselves at a relative tax disadvantage in exchange for the benefits the organizations provide. What this means, however, is that it is possible for the government to deny tax exemptions to those groups which are not benefitting the public and/or which are working against a compelling public policy — and that may include churches or other religious organizations. Tax exemptions are not a right, they are a privilege which the government bestows based upon the nature of what a group is doing.[11]



[2] Mark Twain's Notebook,1935











leoley forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


leoley forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by CrazyCowMan 3 years ago
I've seen PRO on 9gag about a thousand times now.
Posted by ChosenWolff 3 years ago
What's a curch?
Posted by E_Pluribus_Unum 3 years ago
If I recall correctly, churches that do not make an income do not pay an income tax, just like any other non-profit organization.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture.