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The Contender
Pro (for)
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Should churches be taxed?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/28/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 904 times Debate No: 99397
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




I will be arguing that no, churches should not be taxed.

First round is for acceptance only.

Second round will be for arguments and rebuttals.

Third and final round will be for rebuttals only. No new arguments in this round.

Good luck and thanks in advance for accepting!



I'm here to argue in favor of churches being taxed. I agree with the structure of the debate you've given, and I wish you luck in it. :)
Debate Round No. 1


Here are my 3 arguments against church taxation.

1. It would hurt the church's ability to provide charity. Churches use their money to aid the poor, domestically and abroad. If we start taxing churches, then they would not be able to do as much to help the poor and the needy. Think of what could happen if church run soup kitchens had to take cuts in funding, or is mission trips that provide aid to third world countries were no longer affordable.

2. This would create a non-profit double standard. All non-profits, not just churches, are tax exempt. Why should churches have to pay taxes when other non-profits do not? Unless all non-profits (Salvation Army, March of Dimes, Relay for Life, etc) should be taxed, then this would be a double standard.

3. It is not necessary, because those who get paid through church collections already have to pay income tax. If those who work for the church have to pay income tax anyway, then why tax the church as a whole?

Those are my arguments. I'm eager to hear yours.


Firstly, I shall list my arguments, and then I'll provide counters to yours.

1. Churches are very expensive, as an estimated $71 billion is spent for church subsidies. This number is not counting for things such as sales tax subsidies or the SECA exemption subsidy, among others. An abundance of the money spent on these subsidies could be spent on other services that benefit the public as a whole. Furthermore, given these subsidies, as well as a lack of taxes being paid, churches are fairly unregulated, thus there' s a risk of an illegal operation posing as a church.

2. Beyond financial reasons, churches are also not public. While atheists, agnostics, and other such non-religious affiliations can attend church, most may not due to churches being centered on belief in something they have no belief in. Furthermore, other religions do prohibit the worship of other deities/idols, and attending a church for, say, Christianity while being of another religious affiliation is not allowed by said affiliation. Going deeper into this point, the taxes of individuals who don't attend these churches - and some of which aren't allowed to - are being spent on these churches that aren't providing for them. I'm sure you can see the problem here.

3. Churches are not based around charity, but rather worship of a deity. They are not built upon giving out social benefits beyond those who worship at these churches. This isn't to say that they don't, however occasionally doing charity is not reason in of itself to make a church tax exempt. If this were valid reason, then we'd see things such as some businesses or clubs becoming tax exempt.


1. As the source [1] I've listed has stated, churches can easily just separate their charity work from their religious/financial work, thus allowing the charity work to be tax exempt. As the source also states, however, you could argue that the taxes would cause a decrease in churches, especially with the increasing numbers of nonreligious people. But, I could refute this by saying that the money that the churches would provide would not only cover the charitable work that they would be unable to do upon falling, but also would be able to benefit more aspects of our country.

2. There already is a double standard, actually - churches don't need to apply for tax exemption. [2] But, even besides that, I'd argue that churches should not even be non-profit. My reasoning for this, as demonstrated by a couple examples in my first source, is that churches tend to provide for themselves more than providing for others. Furthermore, them not being non-profit would remove the worry of a double standard, and thus they would have to pay taxes as well. Not to mention how one of the main perks of even being non-profit is that they don't have to pay taxes, so by removing this privilege, there would be no reason for them to be considered non-profit afterwards. [3]

3. Firstly, let's assume that all those who get paid via the church have a collective income tax equivalent to that of what the church would pay. This still is more money that could be spent bettering things used by the entire public rather than a group of religious individuals. But, I highly doubt that the collective income tax of all church employees reaches $78 billion. Let's find out why I feel this way. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May of 2015 there were, on average, 7,840 religious workers. [4] The mean annual income for these workers was $35,160. According to the Smart Asset income tax calculator [5], individuals with this income, no matter the romantic situation, will pay $5,724 in income taxes. Multiplying this by the number of religious workers, we get $41,348,160, or 41 million. Unless I made an error in my mathematics, this is trumped in comparison to the $78 billion (at least!) spent on church subsidies. This isn't even accounting for religious functionaries, who can either opt out of SECA ( which is unlikely) or what's called the parsonage exemption, allowing functionaries to "deduct the cost of their living arrangements from their taxable income." [1]





Debate Round No. 2


First, I shall rebuttal your arguments, and then, I shall rebuttal your rebuttals to my arguments.

1. Yes, church tax exemptions do amount to a lot, but that doesn't change the fact that most of that money goes to the community. That money gives people a place to worship, and it helps the church give back to the poor through charity.

2. What's the issue with this? It doesn't affect non-believers if a church is tax exempt. If you do not want to go to church, that's fine, it's a personal choice, but I fail to see why it hurts you that a church is tax exempt. Again, their money is used as a public service. This would be like if I don't like the Goodwill, and then complain about the Goodwill's tax exemption. Yeah, their tax exemption cuts government revenue, but the Goodwill's money goes back to the community, like a church's does.

3. Yes, but giving people a place to worship is still a public service that benefits the community. And asking for businesses and clubs to be tax exempt is a false equivalency. Businesses are for profit institutions, churches are non-profits. And clubs are already tax exempt unless they make a profit.

Now, my rebuttals to your rebuttals.

1. Even then, the tax money you collect from churches would still hurt their ability to provide charity. And I do not believe that taxing them would provide more good than the charity they use. Even if, as your sources said, churches would draw in 71 billion, that wouldn't even be a significant portion of the United States annual budget. We spend 3.8 trillion every year, that extra 71 billion would do nothing. That's less than what we spend on public transportation, and public transportation is only 2% of our total annual budget. So, it's just better that those churches keep their money and help the community with it themselves.

2. Of course churches should be listed as non-profits. Their primary purpose is not to make money, it's to serve God and serve the needs of the poor. The average preacher earns just $47,000 a year (1), that trails in comparison to what a doctor or a lawyer makes. Do some megachurches abuse the system? Yes, but even in regular non-profits, there is plenty of abuse. The CEO of Susan G. Komen makes a whopping $684,000 a year (2), but Susan G. Komen is still considered a non-profit.

3. You didn't address my underlying point. If those who benefit financially from churches already have to pay taxes, then taxing churches as a whole would do nothing than take money that would otherwise go to the community. Could the government do some good with it? Probably, but as I already pointed out, this would increase our annual budget by less than 2%, which would barely even be noticeable.

G3PF, thank you for debating with me.




I'll first rebuttal your rebuttals, and then rebuttal your rebuttals to my rebuttals.

1. As I've stated, the government could easily use the church funds to allocate even more money to charities and to give back to the community. Furthermore, churches actually do not give to the community as much as you believe. Referring to source [1] again, two of the churches it provided as examples do not seem to give a significant portion of their income to the community/charity. On a larger scale, approximately 10% of the church budget goes to domestic and international mission support. [2] Going by this study's mean for all the churches that had a budget those being surveyed were aware of, the mean budget was $664,426. The 10% of this that's being spent on what we would consider charity work is a mere $66,442.6. But, let's be generous and say that the $2,000,000 dollar budget that only 7 listed applies to all churches, and let's factor in all of the 6% in 'Other' as well, since a small bit of that does seem to go to beneficial things. This is still only $320,000, which, in comparison to the total $78 billion that is spent in tax exemptions, is incredibly underwhelming and a major financial loss.

However, you could argue in favor of things such as the Catholic Church, which are international and do an abundance of charitable work, saying how that they shouldn't be taxed because of how much work they do. However, I'd argue that, given the church's size, it most certainly could survive taxation, and this would help prevent any potential corruption that may affect the church. This money would also severely benefit the countries that do tax it, providing a substantial gain.

If this argument means to state that providing a place of worship is considered charity - I'll get back to you on that momentarily.

2. The issue is that their tax money is being spent on things they won't - and some aren't even allowed to - use. Yes, their money is used to benefit the public by funding public services, but as stated before, the majority of that money is not used as a public service. The comparison you make also falls flat as Goodwill is solely dedicated to providing public service, while churches are not.

3. Here's the point I've been waiting to address. No, a place of worship is not a public service that benefits the community. For one, it only applies to individuals of that religion, as I've stated numerous times. For another, here's a question listed by the source [1] that I frequently have used throughout the debate. "If the function or service the charity provides were discontinued, would it result in a legal requirement for public funds to continue the function?" In this scenario, the church would be take the place of the charity, and the service is prayer and worship. As I'm sure you would imagine, the answer to this is a no. Thus, it is not a public service. Further arguments against this are that governments providing prayer and worship is not a basic human right, which public services are generally applied on. [3]


1. While it would hurt their ability to provide charity, governments could still provide this very charity with this money they obtain/save, in larger amounts at that (see my first rebuttal). Furthermore, you say that $71 billion isn't too worthwhile in the eyes of the government, given the larger amounts they have. However, this is most certainly beneficial, and let's look at at an important example (I'd list more, but character limits). NASA's budget in 2016 appeared to be $18.5 billion [4], which is almost 4 times less than what is spent on church subsidies and tax exemptions. This speaks for itself of where this money can be spent.

2. While they may be stated as such, a lot of the data I've shown seems to show that the money they receive is primarily spent on benefiting themselves rather than providing for others. It's less of them being a non-profit and more of them providing a service in exchange for money (don't some churches charge their members?). Also, the corruption arguably shows an issue with the idea of non-profits as a whole, but that's a debate for another time.

3. As I've already pointed out, the money spent on church tax exemptions and subsidies can provide an even greater benefit for communities and charities than churches do. This money can even be used for governmental purposes, as while it may be a small increase for the government budget, it could still drastically benefit things such as NASA.

Thank you for hosting this debate - I enjoyed it!




Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by DanMGTOW 1 year ago
if a god was real, and that god created the universe, and that god wanted you to have a church, then that god should be able to support that church even if the taxes were 99.99% of the income of that church.
after all if a god created the universe, then creating water, electricity and other things for that church should be easy.
Posted by RayOConnor 1 year ago
Churches should be taxed.
Let's take the Catholic Church for example. They have a multi-billion dollar health care network, with most of their executive staff earning some of the biggest salaries in the industry.
Catholic hospital charity care accounts for 2.8 percent of total patient revenue.
For-profit hospitals provide charity care at 2 percent and public hospitals at 5.6 percent.
This means that Catholic hospitals provide charity care at a rate below the average for all hospitals, rendering the whole argument about charity... void. This also disqualifies the church as a Non-Profit Organisation.
Case closed.
Posted by stschiffman 1 year ago
@capitalistslave. Yes. Churches should never be taxed. Read my arguments for round 2 to know why.
Posted by Capitalistslave 1 year ago
Are you arguing, that under no circumstances should churches be taxed?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Varrack 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con argued that churches can provide charity work and are non-profit organizations, but Pro showed that charity is only a minor part of some churches, and shouldn't be considered non-profit because they benefit themselves, not the public. Con countered by saying that a place of worship is a public service, but Pro pointed out that a place of worship is not a basic human right and it only applies to members of said religion. Con argued that church workers pay income tax already, but even though Pro didn't really counter this, this point never really persuaded me why churches should be tax exempt. Pro argued that churches receive huge government subsidies and the government gets nothing in return, and thus should pay taxes to cover that debt. Pro also shows that irreligious people must pay for subsidies to churches via taxes and are never benefitted by this. Con never effectively responded to either point. Overall, Pro's case is stronger, and wins out.