"The power to tax involves the power to destroy."
-- U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, in McCulloch vs. Maryland (1819)

I don't know the formal reasoning behind it in Canada, but this legal opinion states why religious organizations of any sort are tax-exempt in the U.S.

Were government to be given the power of taxation over religious organizations, it could run roughshod over them with discriminatory tax laws. It could even pick and choose which religions it wanted to tax -- not a good thing for minority sects. Either of these would inhibit the free exercise of religion, as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Religious organizations are not businesses as defined by American law (nor, I believe, under English common law). Treating them as businesses doesn't work. CtF, you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree on that point.


CtF: sure, the government can select which corporations it wants to tax. It does it all the time, based on business type and size. But that's not really the point. Any power of taxation over religious organizations, even non-discriminatory by type or size, would involve the power to destroy them all (100% income tax, say?). That's why they aren't taxed.

True, McCulloch vs. Maryland itself didn't deal with religious organizations -- Maryland wanted to tax The Bank of the United States, and thus destroy it by that taxation. That principle, of destruction by taxation, has to be avoided with religious organizations, because they are specifically protected from governmental interference in the First Amendment.

A religion can not be destroyed by taxation though more than a few have been created because of the special tax status.

A religion is a more often than not set of faith driven behaviors focused on either a god or gods (gender tbd) or way of living.

A church is the organization that guides the followers of a religion in keeping to their focus or faith.Churches are in the business of faith/focus.

Now how special tax status has anything to do with a persons faith is questionable at best and corruptible at worst. How it impacts the business of faith I can clearly see. It turns personal systems of faith and focus into businessof profit which, IMNSFHO, diminishes the foundations of faith.

There are already special tax laws for Not For Profit entities which should be more than enough to cover churches if indeed they are not in the business of money making and are truly just in it for the guidance of the faithful .

Some churches are far from non-profit. How else could they expand so rapidly, with churches all over the country? Also, either all churches are taxed the same amount, or they're not taxed at all. That's the only way to make sure the government isn't favoring a certain religion or church.

Not taxing the churches works better. Why? Because by making the churches apply to be tax exempt, you don't have to deal with the subjective problem of the government deciding what should/shouldn't be taxed, because there are hundreds of variations of churches.

Religious organizations shouldn't be tax exempt because they are religious; they're not needed for someone to practice their belief. However, if they are non profit, they should be entitled to all of the benefits that any other non profit organization does.

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