Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

January 14, 2013

CONFER: Political churches should pay taxes

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Churches are granted privilege under tax law. Most significantly, due to their status as 501(c)(3), they are federally tax exempt. Also, all 50 states exclude them from the property tax rolls. Across all tax breaks, churches in America realize $71 billion in savings according to a study conducted by the Council for Secular Humanism and the University of Tampa.

In order to maintain these breaks, the rules are pretty simple: keep your nose clean in the world of politics. Churches are allowed to involve themselves in matters of public policy without it being deemed lobbying — and incurring the wrath of the IRS — if their actions are kept within a certain set of parameters. They can conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, and pursue public policy in an entirely educational matter. What they can’t do is contact or urge the public to contact legislators in an effort to suggest, promote and oppose legislation or intervene in a political campaign and dictate to their followers who should be the winner or loser.

Most churches do a fantastic job of staying within the boundaries of the tax code while others tread a fine line between educating and lobbying. But, as we’ve seen in recent years, more and more churches are breaking the law with vigor and becoming fully involved in both policy and politics.

Take, for example, what happened on New Year’s Day when Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George and his auxiliary bishops issued a letter to their churches urging them to oppose the gay marriage bill that is up for vote in the Illinois legislature. Catholic Churches throughout the Diocese of Chicago issued the letter as a supplement to their church bulletins or emailed a copy to their parishioners.

Although brazen – and illegal – the Diocese’s actions are nowhere near as cocksure as the campaign called Pulpit Freedom Sunday. On one Sunday during the fall of every year since 2008, this movement has hit churches across the United States. What started as just 84 churches grew to 539 in 2011 to 1,586 in 2012 (a list of participants can be found at http://tinyurl.com/PoliticalChurches).

Text Only
Columns
Featured Ads
Photos


Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Front page
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Seasonal Content
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Seasonal Content
Helium debate
Helium
Section Teases

Seasonal Content
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.