There are some strange things that people believe. Some people think the Apollo space craft never landed on the moon, others that the world is flat, and still others that all religions are the same. It seems that we are inclined to believe things that go against reason. One of the many myths Aussies believe is that churches do not pay tax. However, churches do pay tax, because everyone in church who makes an income pays tax on that income. They pay income tax, GST, various council fees and taxes, and many other taxes that we all have to sacrifice our hard earned cash to. I was going to ask should we tax church members twice, because they pool money together to run a voluntary gathering, but the truth is we are all taxed much more than just twice. Indeed if a church needs some plumbing done, they pay the plumber at the going rate, including GST, so let’s dispense with the myth that churches don’t pay tax.
Contrary to what people think most churches don’t make any money but run at a loss anyway. They don’t sell any products or charge for services that can be taxed, yet many churches provide free services to the community. Things like free counselling, coaching, social work, kids programs, some even do free home maintenance, soup kitchens, volunteering in schoolsetc, etc. So rather than seeking to make money, people in congregations across the country pool together their resources for the good of their members, and often the community around them. Placing further financial burdens on the churches would jeopardize all this work.
Yes there are some corrupt televangelists who get rich. These people are terrible, and most Christians do not consider these people to be very Christian, but still every cent they have is given voluntarily to them by people. To tax churches you would literally have to then say that little Billy must be taxed for the money his grandma gave him at Christmas. Because this is the exact same way most churches survive: from donations or gifts. A lot of churches can’t even afford to pay their pastor a fulltime income. But hey let’s demagogue people and make ridiculous unsubstantiated claims about all the wealth churches have because there’s a small percentage of scumbag televangelists who own private jets.
For the sake of fairness though, I will add that churches which do run businesses should have to operate like any other business and have their profits taxed as well. This is because the business exists to make money, whereas churches don’t. If Christians want to engage in the market place and produce albums, or coffee shops, or restaurants that make a profit, it is only fair that they are not subsidised by the government to compete in that market place.
Reverend Matthew Littlefield is the pastor of New Beith Baptist Church. He is an ordained Minister in the Baptist Union of Queensland.
You can view some of Matthew’s Public work on YouTube at the link below.