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Why churches don't pay taxes and how much money the public could gain if they did
Churches and religious organizations are tax-exempt. Should they continue to get such a benefit?
Everyone pays taxes, right? Well, everyone except churches and one-percenters with offshore accounts. How is it that religious organizations have such a sweet deal?
Actually, churches are not alone in this benefit. They and other religious organizations are treated like charities that provide social benefits to society. They tend to help the poor, work to reduce crime and generally hold a positive influence over their communities.
Making churches tax-exempt can also be considered an enforcement of the separation of church and state, with the government not interfering in religious affairs. Not being taxed especially helps smaller churches, which would otherwise close due to their tiny budgets which are dependent largely on donations.
Still, what if we did tax them? While these numbers are estimates based on a University of Tampa study, we could get up to $83.5 billion of additional revenue if religious institutions paid into the government’s coffers like the rest of us. That’s not enough to get us universal health care, which could run from $1.38 billion to $2.8 trillion per year, according to ranging figures offered by Bernie Sanders and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. But it could be almost enough to end extreme poverty in the world, not just in America, according to a report by Oxfam.
The idea of having churches tax-exempt is not new. It goes back to the times of the Roman Emperor Constantine (272-337 AD) who gave the Christian church a pass on all taxes. Most of the original thirteen American colonies gave tax relief to churches, says Focus on the Family.
Satirist John Oliver highlighted how easy it is to start a church in America due to purposefully vague IRS tax laws and regulations. He created the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, proclaiming himself Megareverend.
Who else has a church? The Kardashians. They’ve been accused of supporting the Life Change Community Church as their own personal tax haven.
Indeed, according to the tax law specialist Virginia Richardson in an IRS-produced video, the IRS’s tax guide “makes no attempt to evaluate the content of whatever doctrine a particular organization claims is religious”. The only requirement is for the beliefs to be “truly and sincerely held” while keeping the organization’s actions legal.
Churches and other religious organizations are supposed to stay out of politics but they usually hold indirect influence and often endorse particular candidates, according to Religious News Service.
Will anything change in the tax status of churches? It's hard to bet on that in such a religious country as the United States. About half of America claims to go to Church at least once a month. On the other hand, with the values of many Americans threatened by the ideological cuts advanced by the Trump administration that target the disadvantaged, the social safety net, and the education system, one wonders if at some point the tax status of Churches and religious organizations should also not be up for debate.
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.