Religious tax-exemption protects the state

15 December, 2017 Cross, The Cross0

From Nic Forster

There are good reasons why we don’t tax religions:
1. They would mostly claim charitable status anyway
2. It opens up the possibility of a government making discriminatory or punitive anti-religious policies
3. As tax-paying institutions, they would earn the right to engage in politics
4. It undermines the separation of church and state & damages constitutional secularism

Tighten rules by all means; but don’t mash our political safeguards!

Don’t forget The Cross earlier posts on this topic


and some of the comments

William Bryant Scrivener The safeguards don’t seem to prevent the infiltration of theocrats into Australian politics.

Ashley Locke These safeguards also appear to have done nothing to stop religions from comport in themselves like businesses and engaging in unregulated and unethical conduct that would NEVER be lawful for any private enterprise.
 Ryan Lee If the churches stop using their tax free money to influence the politics, if religious people stop hurting the lgbtiq community, if we can get the bottom of child sex abuse done by churches. I would not care tax church or not. It is not possible to taxthe churches anyway as the churches have the majority support in Australia.
Nic Forster : they do, however, prevent religions themselves from engaging directly in political activity. Abbott, Abetz, Bernardi and Hanson are more products of Australia’s political failings than anything else.
Neil Cotter The Anglicans gave $1 million to the No campaign. Hillsong hosts conservative politicians regularly. There is nothing stopping churches from engaging in politics at present, certainly not their tax-exempt status. The Catholic Church was behind the DLP for decades, and continues to influence both major parties to this day, most obviously the ALP via the SDA.
 Michael Thorp What about your hyper-profitable juggernauts like Hillsong. How do you feel about a tax-free threshold of sorts to prevent obviously highly profitable businesses hiding under the banner of a cross from making an extra 30%?
Neil Cotter 
1. If they can claim charitable status for their activities anyway, let them do that. I think you are over estimating the proportion that they can do so, but I don’t see why taxpayers should subsidise proselytising or religion generally.
2. What does tax exemption have to do with “discriminatory or punitive anti-religious policies”? The government discriminates between religions and beliefs at present by not giving some tax exemptions.
3. Churches are already engaged in political activity. Unlike other charities they are not being targeted by the government for this.
4. The status quo is undermining church and state separation by giving privileges to churches rather than just treating them like any other association.

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