I have pondered this question of “should churches be tax exempt?” as I see more and more fancy churches, mosques and temples being built on large parcels of land in my community and surrounding areas. All that land, all those multi-million dollar buildings and tax free. The churches and other places of worshipping the great imaginary sky daddy receive fire and police protection, and get all the community services and benefits at the taxpayers’ expense. Imagine the revenue that could be brought in if churches actually had to pay taxes at the same rate as homeowners and businesses. The income would be tremendous.
From the Richard Dawkins site:
Matt Yglesias thinks we ought to start taxing churches. “Whichever faith you think is the one true faith, it’s undeniable that the majority of this church-spending is going to support false doctrines,” he notes. Even if you did direct the money toward the one true faith, it’d still be a bad idea, as “Upgrading a church’s physical plant doesn’t enhance the soul-saving capacity of its clergy.”
Regardless of whether you buy Yglesias’s logic, this raises an interesting question — exactly how much money are we talking about here? If, all of a sudden, churches, synagogues, mosques and the like lost their tax privileges, how much tax revenue would that generate?
On the other hand, would this make the congregants feel as if they should have more consideration and rights to impose their beliefs on the general public? I thought this might be a problem until I started to consider that they already have a lot of influence and power in the community to sway elections and get what they want.
What are your views on this matter?