Churches in the US are given a lot of benefits by the government, including tax exemptions
on property tax, donations, social security taxes, and sales tax
But did you know that preachers also personally
receive hefty tax breaks from the IRS
at everyone else's expense? According to ABC News Sacramento
, a lawsuit filed this week in Sacramento against the IRS, Timothy Geithner
, & the state of California will help determine whether it's legal for preachers to get a free pass on taxes that other citizens must pay.
According to the Freedom from Religion Foundation
"Ministers, who are paid in tax-free dollars, also may deduct their mortgage interest and property tax payments. Under both Federal and California law, allowances paid to 'ministers of the gospel' are not treated as taxable income, unlike the situation for other taxpayers. Only 'ministers of the gospel' may claim these benefits".
No matter what your stance is on whether churches should get tax exemptions, these ministers-only tax exemptions go even further. Unlike charity laws which give tax benefits to both secular and religious organizations, these laws give benefits only
to ministers. In some cases, clergy even "double-dip
": they "deduct their mortgage payments and real estate taxes from income tax, even though they paid for these with tax-exempt dollars, amounting to a government subsidy solely for clergy
," according to FFRF.
In a secular nation, which has a constitution prohibiting the establishment of religion, it seems both illegal and unjust that ministers of any income get a free ride on taxes everyone else has to pay. Just like everyone else, some men and women of the cloth make little money, while others are multi-millionaires. So why shouldn't they be taxed at the same rates as everyone else? The rest of the country shouldn't be made to pay more taxes to make up for this unfair exception.
Freedom of religion should allow ministers to worship, not to cheat the tax system at taxpayer expense.
As originally posted on http://iamtheblog.com/wordpress2/?p=855