To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Religion Gets Big Tax and Regulatory Breaks

The most pernicious characteristic of the US tax code is how it is used as a tool by Congress to favor some groups over others. Almost all of the great social conflicts today, from gay marriage to retirees versus families with children to renters versus owners, are products of a tax system that picks winners and losers.

Tax breaks, in essence, are tax subsidies. And boy do we subsidize religion and exempt it from regulations to boot.

From an NY Times article today:
In recent years, many politicians and commentators have cited what they consider a nationwide “war on religion” that exposes religious organizations to hostility and discrimination. But such organizations — from mainline Presbyterian and Methodist churches to mosques to synagogues to Hindu temples — enjoy an abundance of exemptions from regulations and taxes. And the number is multiplying rapidly.

An analysis by The New York Times of laws passed since 1989 shows that more than 200 special arrangements, protections or exemptions for religious groups or their adherents were tucked into Congressional legislation, covering topics ranging from pensions to immigration to land use. New breaks have also been provided by a host of pivotal court decisions at the state and federal level, and by numerous rule changes in almost every department and agency of the executive branch.

The special breaks amount to “a sort of religious affirmative action program,” said John Witte Jr., director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at the Emory University law school.

Professor Witte added: “Separation of church and state was certainly part of American law when many of today’s public opinion makers were in school. But separation of church and state is no longer the law of the land.”
Were I to run for president, my platform would include abolishing section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, for as long as there are taxes then every entity should have to pay them. And don't get me going on exempting religious groups from regulations. Exempt us all!