Jump to content
Political Discussion Forums

Recommended Posts

First off do churches even deserve tax exemptions and why do we grant them? Is it because they do something positive for the community? I know some do for sure, but do they all? How do we know which groups are doing ‘enough good’? They don’t have to open their books.

Secondly, who decides what is a church and what is just a group of enthusiasts? Seems like a fine, arbitrary line to me. In my opinion, if Mormonism passes the test then the gate is really wide open for anyone.

Let’s say I believe the universe is really a fishbowl on the night stand of a giant. If I round up enough children and teach them the giants require our devotion or they will flush the contents of the bowl and we will be doomed to a massive sewer system full of alligators and rats for eternity, in a couple of decades we’d have a solid following. Who at the CRA has to decide if that qualifies?

Finally, these deductions aren't chump change. I've read estimates that the tax savings amounts to at least 48 bazillion dollars. Sure, a bazillion may not be a real number but the actual total is certainly large.

So to fix this problem I think churches should not receive tax exemptions. Instead, they should apply for charitable status. They will then have to abide by the same rules as charities. They will have to open their books and refrain from ‘political activism’. Those that want to be politically active or hide their finances can simply pay taxes. To me this approach seems fair, open and free from bias. Thoughts?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 97
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I'm sure there has to be some safeguards in place to ensure that a church does legitimate good to obtain charitable status or, like you say, anyone could say they're a church.

"I'm the church of me, there for I don't have to pay taxes!!!" You don't see that happening do you?

MADD gets charitable status yet, the amount of money they send to an actual cause vs. how much goes to "admin" doesn't change their ability to get tax exemptions on charitable grounds.

Some charities are politically active. Why should a church lose charitable status if they try to lobby governments but a secular charity doesn't? In Toronto last week a city councillor was charged with DWI and MADD came down strongly against other councillors that showed support for them.

A legit church likely does lots of charitable work therefore it should be seen by the government as a charitable organization. Even if they don't funnel a good majority of their money to a charitable cause doesn't mean they should have to pay taxes on the donations they receive from an offering. People give that money freely as a charitable donation and can write it off.

I think people's hatred for religious organizations think that churches are somehow undeserving of having charitable status.

Edited by Boges
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well a Church has staff. I'm sure they have to issue them T4's every year. If you think a certain pastor makes too much money then don't donate to that church. Doesn't mean all church's do that.

Just like all charities don't funnel most of their money to administration and very little to the actual cause. But a lot do, do that.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I think people's hatred for religious organizations think that churches are somehow undeserving of having charitable status.

Churches don't have "charitable status" right now. So I'm saying the opposite. Churches should have to become charities and follow the rules of charities to receive a tax exemption.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Churches don't have "charitable status" right now. So I'm saying the opposite. Churches should have to become charities and follow the rules of charities to receive a tax exemption.

But they receive their income in the form of charitable donations, They don't charge people to come to church. If they did, I'm sure that money would be taxable.

If you've ever been to a church they like you to give your regular donations in a labeled envelope so at the end of the fiscal year they can issue you a tax receipt.

Why should money given as a charitable donation be taxed? That's sort of like taxing the food bank for the food they receive.

Edited by Boges
Link to post
Share on other sites

There is already too much confusion of this, so, for Canadians, here is a primer:

1) We have charitable organizations and we have non-profit organizations. A NPO can be a charity or not. Usually a charity and a NPO are organized under a society act. IOW, this is like being incorporated with the exception that a charity/NPO do not provide benefits to shareholders (not surprising since the Society is not owned for the benefit of shareholders but for certain other purposes).

2) A NPO does not give out tax receipts for any "donations" since it is not a charity.

3) If the society is a charity then it may issue donation receipts for donations.

4) A charity files a charity return and anyone can go online to review these if they like.

5) A NPO files a T2 (Corporate tax return) under section 149 which exempts it from tax.

Since we are talking primarily about charities I am going to move on and ignore further reference to NPO's:

6) To form a charity you need to consider these guidelines:

To be charitable at law, an organization must have purposes that fall under one or more of the four heads (categories) of charity:
  • the relief of poverty;
  • the advancement of education;
  • the advancement of religion; and
  • certain other purposes that benefit the community in a way the courts have said is charitable.

The last category is limited to purposes that have been determined by the courts to be charitable at law.

So, merely advancing religion is, in and of itself, considered a charitable purpose. [For which I personally disagree]

7) The tax benefits from this are as follows:

a) If revenues exceed expenditures for the year (i.e. a net income) then no income taxes are paid.

B) Donations received lead to the issuance of tax receipts so that the donor receives a tax break equal to ~ 20% on the first $200 and ~ 39% to 48% on anything over $200 (depending on what province you live in).

c) Property tax exemptions are usually provided to charities and it is rare for any church to pay any property tax.

8) Other tax benefits include special deductions provided for the clergy related to church provided housing called the clergy residence deduction. That's right - if I provided a residence to one of my employees the benefit would be taxable. If you're a church with a priest then the priest doesn't have to pay tax on this benefit because he is a priest/pastor! Isn't life grand....

9) Yes, a church does issue T4 slips to employees (including the priest/pastor) and the employees would pay taxes just like any other working stiff (with the exception of #8 above).

10) Charities are not supposed to partake in politics. This has been an issue from time to time and, right now, is becoming an increasing frustration for Humanists/Atheists in the US (where similar rules apply vis-a-vis no political activities).

That's all I can come up with during my lunch time but I may be back later for further clarification.

Edited by msj
Link to post
Share on other sites

MSJ - thank you so much for your clear conveyance of information.

I don't see churches getting that much of an advantage over other charities, except for the fact that the priest doesn't have to claim living in residence as a benefit.

There isn't much point in changing the status of churches - nor is there any political reason to.

Link to post
Share on other sites

MSJ - thank you so much for your clear conveyance of information.

I don't see churches getting that much of an advantage over other charities, except for the fact that the priest doesn't have to claim living in residence as a benefit.

There isn't much point in changing the status of churches - nor is there any political reason to.

Except if you hate Religion. That being said, I'll be consistent here. If someone starts up the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and can convince people to donate to them, those donations should be tax exempt.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I did a quick search but can't find any difference between faith-based non-profit organizations and other non-profit organizations.

Its true that in canada churches have the same tax status as other charitable organizations, and I dont have any problem with churches having an exemption on charitable activity. But thats only a small part of what they do. And the problem is that the church collects all these tax deductible donations, but only gives a small percentage of them to charity, and some of them horde an obcene ammount of wealth. The roman catholic church for example is the worlds largest owner of realestate.

Link to post
Share on other sites

MSJ - thank you so much for your clear conveyance of information.

I don't see churches getting that much of an advantage over other charities, except for the fact that the priest doesn't have to claim living in residence as a benefit.

There isn't much point in changing the status of churches - nor is there any political reason to.

Well, if I give $1,000 to a charity I will save around $380 in income tax.

If I give $1,000 to a NPO I will get nothing back.

So that difference is significant - this is why people donate to charities rather than NPO's.

As to comparing a charity with another charity, however, no, they are essentially the same except for the clergy residence deduction which, to me, is a BS deduction.

I also disagree with calling advancement of religion as being charitable.

Helping the poor, disadvantaged, improving the environment etc... are clear acts of charity.

I audit several charities - mental health providers, low income seniors housing, addiction treatment centre, environmental groups (who provide real benefits by investing in fish streams etc) and have no problem with people donating to them getting a tax break.

But preaching to the choir? Heck, having the choir sing to the choir? Really? That's charity?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Its true that in canada churches have the same tax status as other charitable organizations, and I dont have any problem with churches having an exemption on charitable activity. But thats only a small part of what they do. And the problem is that the church collects all these tax deductible donations, but only gives a small percentage of them to charity, and some of them horde an obcene ammount of wealth. The roman catholic church for example is the worlds largest owner of realestate.

The term 'charity' is so loose as to be meaningless. If I think my activity benefits the community and I don't take a profit, I can set up a charity basically.

You can't set them below the law. Lots of non-profits and charities have assets and property.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As to comparing a charity with another charity, however, no, they are essentially the same except for the clergy residence deduction which, to me, is a BS deduction.

I also disagree with calling advancement of religion as being charitable.

Right. There really isn't much to go on here. Churches provide more benefit to society than many so-called charities.

Helping the poor, disadvantaged, improving the environment etc... are clear acts of charity.

Churches do this too.

But preaching to the choir? Heck, having the choir sing to the choir? Really? That's charity?

Visiting the sick - providing comfort to old people - bringing food to poor people at Christmas...

Yes, churches are charities.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Right. There really isn't much to go on here. Churches provide more benefit to society than many so-called charities.

In some cases yes and in other cases no.

I have prepared financial statements for churches (not audited - reviewed) and some Churches provide little more than a place to preach.

The charities that I do audit provide lots of services that benefit society - mental health services and housing, low income seniors housing, rebuilding streams so that fish actually are using the stream again etc...

I have no problem with those services.

Visiting the sick - providing comfort to old people - bringing food to poor people at Christmas...

Yes, churches are charities.

Sure, and the extent that they do these things then that part is charitable.

The preaching part, however, is not, imo.

If people think that they are giving money to a church and it's only going for these programs then they are sadly mistaken.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Right. There really isn't much to go on here. Churches provide more benefit to society than many so-called charities.

Depends on the church and depends on the charity.

Some charaties have very high overheads, others manage to divert a much bigger portion of their donations to their intended recipients. Unicef and the Red Cross (2 of the bigger charities) manage to spend >90% of their revenue on their indended programs (only 10% overhead).

And while your local church may have a "missions" fund to help overseas, or run a soup kitchens, I suspect most of the money collected by the church ends up being used for things like simply maintaing the church infrastructure, pastor's salaries, etc. (Your local priest may spend time helping the poor, but its only a fraction of his job.)

Edited to add:

I should also mention that while you're talking about "churches helping people", the definition of a "church" also includes such sleazy individuals as Benny Hinn.

Visiting the sick - providing comfort to old people - bringing food to poor people at Christmas...

And heating and maintaining a large building that's used primarly for people to come in and pray. Which might make the parisioners feel good, but it isn't exactly 'charity' in that it helps the community at large.

Edited by segnosaur
Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends on the church and depends on the charity.

Some charaties have very high overheads, others manage to divert a much bigger portion of their donations to their intended recipients. Unicef and the Red Cross (2 of the bigger charities) manage to spend >90% of their revenue on their indended programs (only 10% overhead).

And some charities don't give anything to recipients.

And while your local church may have a "missions" fund to help overseas, or run a soup kitchens, I suspect most of the money collected by the church ends up being used for things like simply maintaing the church infrastructure, pastor's salaries, etc. (Your local priest may spend time helping the poor, but its only a fraction of his job.)

Maybe, maybe not.

I should also mention that while you're talking about "churches helping people", the definition of a "church" also includes such sleazy individuals as Benny Hinn.

And heating and maintaining a large building that's used primarly for people to come in and pray. Which might make the parisioners feel good, but it isn't exactly 'charity' in that it helps the community at large.

Helping the parishioners feel good means helping people, means helping the community.

And yes there are crooks who masquerade as religious people, as well as crooks who masquerade as cancer victims etc. etc. Neither here nor there.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well there is no way to quantify what charities are good and bad and certainly no way to determine where churches lie on the moral scale.

Actually, there is a web site called 'charity navigator' that will be of at least some assistance in that regard.

It looks at a charitie's income and overhead, its transparency, etc.

See: http://www.charitynavigator.org/

Its not a perfect measure (since there's no way to quantitativly compar the goals of various charities) but its a start.

Compare that to a church, where even if they do charitable work, its almost impossible to determine how much of their resources is used to help others, and how much is used for internal purposes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Some charaties have very high overheads, others manage to divert a much bigger portion of their donations to their intended recipients. Unicef and the Red Cross (2 of the bigger charities) manage to spend >90% of their revenue on their indended programs (only 10% overhead).

And some charities don't give anything to recipients.

Thing is, we can measure that... registered charaties typically have their books scrutinized so you have an idea of how much money goes to overhead, and how much actually gets used for its indented purposes.

Compare that to a church... if a priest administers to his parishioners and they run a soup kitchen, how much of his time do you consider being "charitable"? Do you measure by the hour? What if they preach at the same time as working at the soup kitchen? And if the soup kitchen is in the church, how much of the church maintenance is considered "charity"? Do you go by square footage?

The problem is, trying to determine how much of what a church does is 'charity' is pretty much impossible.

Helping the parishioners feel good means helping people, means helping the community.

When I talk about "helping the parishioners" I'm talking about the people who both go to church and are the donors.

If someone gives to the church, and instead of running soup kitchens, giving to the poor, etc. they just use all the money to pay for the basic church services, then its not really charity in any way. In that situation, the parishioner is doing nothing different than someone who goes to see Tony Robbins speak. Yes, you might "feel good" but its ultimately a selfish act.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Especially hard to determine that because I would consider saying mass to be helping others and other people apparently don`t.

Saying "mass" is helping peolple in the same way that Tony Robbins helps people...might make them feel good, but that's about it.

And since the people who receive mass are often the people making the donations, then its more selfish than charitiable.

Maybe we should install some of these:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jul/26/praying-booth-at-manchester-university

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




  • Similar Content

    • By Regina
      The Canadian Government is planning to waste at least $235 million for a project, The Thirty Meter Telescope, which won't even be built on Canadian soil.  The Thirty Meter Telescope most likely will employ few Canadians.  To make matters worse, the telescope will be built in Hawaii, USA on land which is both environmentally and religiously sensitive to the indigenous Hawaiians.  I hope everybody will protest against the waste of tax money and human rights abuses.  Please sign the petition to stop the injustice happening within the USA at the expense of Canadian taxpayers.  I am posting a link to an online petition against the Thirty Meter Telescope and waste of taxpayer money: https://www.change.org/p/justin-trudeau-a-call-to-divest-canada-s-research-funding-for-the-thirty-meter-telescope-on-mauna-kea
      Please tell your friends to sign the petition too.  Thank you for your time.
    • By mazerunner
      Of course, I have nothing against the religious beliefs of people who adhere to their religion, however, for me personally, marrying of an adult man to a girl is immoral and I can not react indifferently to this topic.
      Early marriage and early onset of sexual activity have long-term consequences for women's health.
      Also, in poor countries, a young mother, being forced to quit her education and begin to do household work, is deprived of the opportunity to get a profession and is economically or completely dependent on her husband.
    • By Canuck100
      It appears from most if not all MSM reports that this question has already been settled.
      I have written the governing party of my own province asking their policy on climate change. I suspect they don’t have one or are trying to avoid the subject. 
      The problem in my oppinion is that the answer to this question was never properly answered. For years now MSM has simply said “scientists agree with each other that humans have caused climate change (global warming) or whatever. 
      I could go on and on, but there are many credible scientists that have never been allowed by the MSM to have their say. It may be true that most people who only follow MSM may agree that “Humans are causing Climate Change”. That does not make it true. 
      Only if enough people do their own research, will there be any hope of getting at the truth and stopping what I believe is a historically evil hoax intentionally put in place to allow for a world governing dictatorship, never seen before.
      For the sake of your grandchildren you at least owe it to them to explore this issue further. Here is a good article to get you started on some alternative views:
      https://www.iceagenow.info/
    • By Scott Mayers
      For those that argue against 'taxes' as though they are a burden, I thought of this analogy when responding to something Betsy here said in her blog space here.
      Taxi services are business entities meant to get people from one place to another and its name is derived from the nature of one to be charged for a ride. However, because one cannot know how far a trip is, often many pay AFTER they reach their destination. One against taxes is often one who reverses how they pay for their 'ride': UP FRONT. Because one can afford the expense, they are confident of paying for the trip ahead of time. For the rich, instead of paying for a cab AFTER they reach the destiny, they are better off hiring their own PRIVATE cab exclusively or buy their own car if they like the control of driving. Then they CAN afford to pay for the trip prior to getting to where they want to go, right?
      So a "taxi" is to 'taxes' in that those using them both HAVE to have money prior to paying but don't pay UNTIL later...your destiny. By contrast, if you can afford to pay up front, this is fine too. But to think that the poor bastards requiring to pay AFTER the trip is having a "FREE RIDE" ignores that they pay IF and WHEN they get to their destination. The ignorance amiss is to those who simply believe that you should pay the cab driver up front as a form of assurance you have the money and then trust the driver to pay the customer back once you get there.
      Regardless, the anti-tax conservative arguers are actually like those who can afford their own cars or private limos and so demand there is no need for taxi cabs UNLESS the customer is able to default to blindly trusting those taxi cab OWNERS of putting down a deposit up front and then allow the power be transferred to the trust of the cab driver to give you back at the destiny any unused worth. This requires one trust the cab drivers, either as owners or representatives of the owners, to SERVE those taxing with priority.
      The idiocy of the anti-tax arguers misses this point. There certainly ARE customers who will rip off the cab driver. But those taxis would not exist if this behavior WAS the norm of service behavior by most. In fact, taxi owners also act deceptive in equal measure to the population of those ripping them off. However, the wealthier ones demanding NO taxes are like saying this service altogether should NOT even exist! It tells you more about HOW well off they are by contrast: they have their own cars they drive or they hire private limo services that they have complete power over.
      If NO one should require taxes nor taxis, these more privileged travellers who by default have their own means to 'freely' drive from one place to the next both have control over who gets the privilege to get to their destiny quickly AND are the ones setting the BURDEN of those disempowered by virtue of their lack of power of owning the 'taxis' (let alone their own car or limo) to requiring the FEE of whatever the demands of the wealthy want to set non-competitively!
      In essence, the wealthy do not need taxis and yet demand THEY should be empowered to tax (ie, 'burden') the masses by controlling how people travel. They control WHO gets to travel....who gets permit to pass to their own destination 'freely' while they alone have 'free' capacity to create their own destinies AND reach them!
  • Tell a friend

    Love Political Discussion Forums? Tell a friend!
×
×
  • Create New...