U.S. churches are now costing taxpayers $71 billion a year

A 2015 study says that tax exempt churches in the United States are costing its citizens $71 billion each year in tax breaks.

According to the Secular Policy Institute, religious groups receive $35.3 billions in federal income tax subsidies and $26.2 billion in property tax credits. They also enjoy $6.1 billion in state income tax, $1.2 billion of parsonage and $2.2 billion in faith-based initiative subsidies.

SPI reports that if “religious organizations (ie. churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) were taxed like for-profit agencies, it was found that this could generate upwards of $71 billion per year in tax revenue.”

“…even if churches were merely held to the standards of other non-profit agencies, this could generate $16.75 billion in tax revenue per year.The report estimate for the total subsides enjoyed by religious organizations, but they do not account for tax credits like sales taxes, local sales and income taxes volunteer labor subsidy, and donor-tax exemptions.”

Many Americans believe religious organizations require these heavy tax breaks for use in their charitable works. However, researchers at Secular Humanism report that many popular churches are in fact using far less of their funds compared to non-profits.

The Mormon Church, for example, spends roughly .7% of its annual income on charity. Their study of 271 congregations found an average of 71% of revenues going to ‘operating expenses’…Compare this to the American Red Cross, which uses 92.1% of revenues for physical assistance and just 7.9% on operating expenses. The authors also note that Wal-Mart, for instance, gives about $1.75 billion in food aid to charities each year, or twenty-eight times all of the money allotted for charity by the United Methodist Church and almost double what the LDS Church has given in the last twenty-five years.

While some churches actually participate in charitable works, they do not perform half as much humanitarian aid as a true none-profit organization.

According to Patheos, “churches should be entitled to the same tax breaks as other charitable groups, as long as they are held to the same standard, and not given the free pass to tax free status they currently enjoy.”

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  1. Bob

    December 25, 2015 at 1:58 am

    Wow! I have never seen a group of misinformed individuals as I do in reading some of these posts. As the financial officer for a small, rural church I find it hard to believe that you are lumping us all together. We certainly do not have our pastors living in mansions, flying in jets, or riding around in limos. Our church barely gets by on what we have, but we proudly do the Lord’s work in our community. If any of you care to get down off of your holy than thou throne come to our church & I’d be happy to prove it to you.

    Also am I the only one that finds it hard to believe that the Secular Policy Institute would come up with such off the wall numbers. They can crunch numbers a 100 different ways to Sunday until they come up with something that back’s their agenda. Hardly an objective organization.

    • Dave

      March 22, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Easy solution: if you want to believe Bronze Age fairytales, do it on your own dime. If it’s important to you, you find the means (maybe your invisible friend can loan it to you). Either way, the rest of us shouldn’t need to pay for your anachronistic hobby.

    • Zehner Hoffman

      March 23, 2016 at 7:04 am

      Fascinating how the left always believes money that is not theirs ought to go to government for redistribution.

  2. Marc

    December 25, 2015 at 3:04 am

    On Christmas, you post this?
    This is the time of the year where atheists me a secularists come out in droves to attack the faithful…

    So you think that the government should profit from religion? That it should have an interest in religion? That it should have an incentive to support various religions for its gain? That it should have a cut of God’s tribute?

    Firstly, the government doesn’t “lose” money. It’s not the government’s money to loose. To properly phrase this nonsense, better say that the government has a further opportunity to fleece the masses.

    Then we get to the theological fact that the faithful would be paying tithes to a secular Godless entity. They would be idoltry. Giving to man what belongs to God.
    Taking God’s tribute and applying it to an entity that funds wars and abortion.

    It’s a stupid, Godless proposition posed by black hearted atheists unwittingly doing satan’s work. Attacking the children of God.

    Funny, no one complains when the government PAYS for the raising of mosques and supports public satanic masses though.
    But a Christian’s tithe?
    Attests and satanists are drooling for a cut.

    • Derick

      January 4, 2016 at 9:30 pm

      black hearted atheists unwittingly doing satan’s work? No that would be Christians. They’ve been doing it since the beginning of religion. People in glass houses should not throw stones especially when the glass is so thin.

      • Steve Jones

        March 21, 2016 at 8:06 am

        Christians have been seving for centuries. And you post shows your lack of knowledge. Haven’t you ever heard of Protestantism? You know, the group of Christians that broke ties with the Catholic Church 500 years ago? Stop lumping us together and get your facts straight. Additionally, the main role of the church is to share the gospe,l not be just another charity. We do charitable act but not to sustain us but to be a light in a dark world, hence this website.

      • Wildfire

        August 13, 2016 at 7:08 pm

        That is ss wrong as you can get

  3. David

    December 25, 2015 at 5:59 am

    And if you cut into the social services churches provide its going to cost us even more!

    • Solomon

      December 27, 2015 at 12:46 am

      Get over yourself, mate. You’re not fooling anyone. The gig is up. Time to walk in Jesus’s footsteps and stop sinning. “Give all of your belongings to the poor.”

    • Bryan Westbrook

      December 27, 2015 at 11:47 am

      That’s what is commonly known as bullshit.

    • Kelly Dowhower

      December 29, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Let’s give it a go and see just what happens. And like the article said–you DID read the article, did you not–that compared to the Red Cross, and even Walmart, the church’s provide chump change, CHUMP!

      • Laurie Tudela

        March 20, 2016 at 1:54 pm

        you didn t read the article. He is using examples like the Mormon church who bring in billions of dollars of a year and only spend a small amount on charity. the rest pays for people’s lifestyles. Religious organizations whether be small or large SHOULD be held to the same standards as a 501c. It’s ridiculous the amount that some of them bring in and they DONT give back.

      • Lorelei Kawchuk

        March 20, 2016 at 7:40 pm

        I’m seeing what was written in the article & Laurie’s comment in regards to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m sorry, but many such as her obviously do NOT have a clue about the Church & all of God’s work, which they do with the Tithing which is received! Actually, the same goes for the person who wrote the article, too!
        We do NOT broadcast all of the charitable & Lord’s work, which is done by the Lord’s Church! Much more of the Lord’s work is done than many may realize!
        The day will come when multitudes will be grateful for all of the work which the LDS Church does perform with its donations! Sad that many will NOT realize it until after they have passed from this mortal life to beyond the grave!

      • Steve Hahny

        March 22, 2016 at 9:31 am

        I think you should check wit the LDS church before assuming anything, this article is purely coming from Satan and his cronies.

    • Paul Evans

      January 8, 2016 at 8:47 am

      and how much are unwanted catholic pregnancies costing welfare because condoms are banned?

      • Tom Moe

        January 8, 2016 at 5:21 pm

        Seriously, Paul. You are reaching beyond reality. People have a right to choose birth control or not without your approval.

  4. zookr

    December 25, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Jopublick – and prople here are afraid of Bernie Sanders, smh

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  6. billie

    December 27, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Cut out private health insurance paid by taxpayers, to our politicians, get rid of our largest tax increase in history, obamacare, and keep islamic terrorists out of US and our country would be in a better state.

  7. Rod

    December 27, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Why would anyone want to increase taxes on any person or organization in order to continue to support the existence of a corrupt government? People labor under the very false impression that our government would actually do something productive with the money they get from churches when in fact it only provides more money to be wasted on porkbarrel programs and transfers money into the pockets of politicians and their banker cronies. We need to reduce the tax burden on everyone, not increase it on groups we selectively disagree with.

    • Paul Evans

      January 8, 2016 at 9:08 am

      Not true about tax spending ….property taxes are distributed differently than others, they are municipal and go to the operations of the city they are in. they are also based on the relative value of that property to others around it soif a church is all blinged up and is conspicuously wealthy, then its tax rate would be proportionally higher. that would keep the churches humble and help direct you donations where they outwardly to the needy and not inwardly to adorn the walls of its cathedrals.

      also a law governing the church’s taxes could stipulate that the money be used only for charitable services.

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  11. Jesse Cox

    March 19, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    So rephrasing the title to what you’re actually saying: U.S. churches should have to pay $71 billion a year in taxes. They’re not costing us anything as they’re pretty much considered charities.

  12. Lorelei Kawchuk

    March 20, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    The person who wrote this article needs to learn about the important work that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does! They obviously don’t have a clue how much of God’s work is done by the Church! There will come a day when they will come to realize, bbut the sad thing for them mmay be that they will probably not acknowledge all of it until they have passed from this mortal life to the place beyond the grave!
    They should do some real research into what is done with the Lord’s tithing before they continue to throw stones at the LDS Church!

  13. Tom

    March 21, 2016 at 11:19 am

    No possibility that this group has a bias against religion. Churches do such good work. Meanwhile, the NFL remains nonprofit. Yeah, the church is such a problem? lol

  14. P.Lazaro

    March 22, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Churches need to start paying taxes like everybody else, they nned to to that now, they cant keeping living off everyone.

  15. Pray To Dog

    March 23, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    ….and the NFL. Unless 75% of their earnings are going to help the community outside of their organization, they should be paying taxes….meanwhile all of us unpaid volunteers should be able to write off all the volunteer hours we put in…SMH.

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  18. Jacob

    August 21, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Since when is “not robbing an organization” equivalent to “subsidizing an organization”?

  19. Pingback: U.S. Religious Organizations Are Now Costing Taxpayers $71 Billion a Year

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