It's time to rethink how charity works in 2017 - Albuquerque Journal

It’s time to rethink how charity works in 2017

Does anyone doubt that the line between church and state has disappeared? At the same time that we are being told we have to do more with less in our state, Congress is reallocating our tax dollars to fund pet projects. A Republican-majority Congress traditionally never includes additional funding for social welfare programs like SNAP benefits for poor people in our country, or foreign aid to fund clinics in war-torn regions where people have no water and no food. Never mind that they are about to throw a whole lot of taxpaying Americans under the bus with their ludicrous plan for health care tax cuts for the uber-wealthy. There are reports they are praying about that and every other thing they are trying to do to us.

It’s time to present and pressure Congress with a solid solution. It’s apparent to me that we, the people, must demand that tax-exempt religious organizations pay their fair share of taxes. This change to the tax code would pump billions of dollars into our economy every single year. We could solve poverty and probably even pay for health care for all God’s children in the U.S.A., and continue to extend our charitable and generous support to other nations. This blessing should be transferred to the American people’s 401K so that we, too, can reap the benefits and see a future of charity, wellness and benevolence.

According to Ryan T. Cragun, a sociologist at the University of Tampa, churches in the United States are subsidized by us, the taxpayers, at a low-ball figure of $71 billion per year. Let that sink in. We are not receiving an almost obscene amount of guaranteed revenue because churches, mosques, synagogues, et al. are released from paying property taxes, sales taxes and local income taxes on church-owned properties and buildings. He estimated that religious groups own $600 billion in houses of worship alone, never mind all their holdings.

I think it incredibly unjust that we all struggle to pay our own taxes every year so that our government can run, yet religious organizations are allowed a free ride on our backs. Just so we know, according to the CBO and reported by the Washington Post on July 14: “The charitable deduction for all groups cost about $39 billion this year … and given that 32 percent of those donations are to religious groups, getting rid of it just for them would raise about $12.5 billion. Add that in and you get a religious subsidy of about $83.5 billion.”

No matter what your religious affiliation is, does it not make you a little uncomfortable that people are struggling while churches are thriving and getting a free ride off our backs? Just think what $83.5 billion could do to pay back the deficit, shore up Social Security or help rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Think about Flint, Mich., or think about the family you know with mounting medical bills or just think about how charity really works in 2017. It’s time for religious organizations to pay their share, fairly. It just might save a few more souls when they finally do.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » It’s time to rethink how charity works in 2017


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