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Published 4 years ago with 1 Comments

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  • NinjaKlaus

    This is a lot, I may be grossly wrong, but it is what it is. But my reading of the IRS Page on 501.c.3's and my googling pastor pay this is what I've got. I'll even add my own thoughts about it all at the bottom.

    Not paying taxes and being subsidized are two different things. If not paying taxes means a subsidy then every poor person is earning a subsidy because they don't earn enough to qualify to pay taxes? The way it's set up is that they don't pay taxes to the government, they get no support from the Federal Government, separation of Church and State qualifies that as a reason to get tax exempt status so long as the two aren't trading money. Pastor's do not earn six figure salaries as that article states, the average pay is between 30 and 70,000 dollars for a full time pastor, as in one on call 24/7 to their parishioners. On top of that most of the ones on the higher end are on a housing stipend plus pay, meaning the Church is paying their housing bills through the year as part of their payment. This is done because some churches can move you anywhere they want whether it's 10 miles from home or in another country.

    A church may pay no taxes, but the pastor and all staff members must. Priests are not tax exempt. Just the building and whatever the parishioners give to them over the course of a year. Meaning they are very much the same as say any other charitable organization with the only major difference in being they are not required to allow the IRS to look over their books unless a lawsuit it launched. Where something like the Cancer Foundation can be asked to open their books anytime and anywhere to ensure compliance.

    What many don't know is that under the law any church found to be giving too much or acting in a favorable light towards a certain activity or person then that person and anyone involved in it are subject to an excise tax on their taxes. If the IRS isn't using this law then it's a failure on the part of the IRS.

    Also of note is that property owned by a church for business purposes such as a retreat, conference center or even a book store is not tax exempt as they are for profit because it is considered to be governed by the Unrelated Business Income Tax. Here is how that is worked out.

    Section 513(a) of the Internal Revenue Code defines Unrelated Business Income (UBI) using three key phrases as follows:

    Is the income substantially related to the church's religious, charitable, educational or other purposes? Is it a trade or business? Is it regularly carried on?

    Now my own personal belief is that anything other than donations, charitable actions and the building itself should be charged. Extra's like parcels of land down the road, baseball, soccer, and parks should be taxed, anything not directly linked to the teachings of a religion and the charitable actions taken by said church should probably be taxable. The buildings should be tax exempt because they aren't just used for Church, they also are involved in Stephen Ministries which is counciling for homeless, those in need and others for free. It's not just church goes in those buildings but actual charitable work a well. Let's not forget the good through the bad and treat the charitable portions as what they are.

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