Look around you. The sidewalks, train stations, overpasses, roads...are all falling apart. With taxes raised as high as any re-electable politician is willing to suggest, our country simply does not have the money to fuel any of these re-building projects. Everything is crumbling.
I can imagine the era of hopefulness that spurned these 'betterment' projects. There was no debating whether we, ourselves, were better off than our parents. (2 chickens in every pot, for God's sake!) Today, the chickens are poisoned with anti-biotics and our public projects, once proud relics in the religion of Cold War, are literally falling to pieces.
The time has come to re-think a major element of our tax code: NO TAXES FOR RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS. Founded in the hope that government and religion don't mix, this loophole actually does the opposite: It favors religious institutions! A 1986 estimate showed religious income in that year of approx. $100 billion, or about five times the income of the five largest corporations in the U.S. Taking this money out of the coffers of churches would put it back into the pockets of tax payers...who in turn would be free to spend and invest. We have an excellent opportunity to re-build our once great nation. Let's not overlook it.
I'm still waitin' on 40 acres and a mule! No telling what kinds of things are in our food supply. No wonder cancer is rampant.
In Germany church contribution/membership is taxed.
You might be interested in that report
Value added or transaction tax would put my farm out of business because income in a good year is less than half of one percent of its value of investment. I have not had a good year in a long time and feel the family farm in my family since 1869 will be sold when I am gone.
I would generally favor a tax on corporations and institutions that uses a value added approach, regardless of profits. I would also tax transactions rather than personal income. But this would require tax law changes.
However, the current tax system only collects 84% of the taxes due. The gap is estimated to be well over $500 billion dollars a year. Instead of fighting over new taxes, I would think it would be productive to find a way to better collect those taxes that are actually due under current tax law. Some proposals have been made to have the IRS determine what people owe and calculate their taxes for them. Of course, there would be an appeal procedure. Under the current system the tax preparation is left to the individual and many don't pay their taxes hoping they slip through the cracks or can negotiate reduced taxes at a later date.
As far as churches and charities are concerned, the folks who work for them must pay income taxes on their wages.
The US tax code taxes profits, not income. During the past couple of years of economic downturn, many US corporations had billions in income but made no profits. They paid no taxes. Churches are only a small part of the large number of institutions that fall under the protection of the 501 (c) section of the income tax law. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/501%28c%29. Again, all of these institutions may have huge incomes but their accounting techniques have no place for profit. Their intent is to share any excess with the members of their organization, charity contributions and keeping reserves for future good deeds. According to the law they are not allowed to engage in politics of any kind.
Probably the biggest religious institution in America is the Roman Catholic Church, with a huge networks of charities, health care facilities, schools, etc that all operate on a non-profit basis. I don't think you can find anywhere in their charter that they were ever commissioned by their founders or leaders to make a profit.
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