Bill Maher: Tax the Churches! (2023)


Bill Maher recently did a segment where he suggested we should strip churches of their tax exempt status since less people are religious now than ever before. There is also a constitutionally justifiable and progressive argument as to why we should tax churches.

Watch the Full Segment:

List of the Richest Pastors in America:

Arguments For & Against Taxing Churches:

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The Humanist Report (THR) is a political podcast that analyzes weekly news stories. Each news story we cover is supplemented with thought-provoking and fact-based commentary that is objective and progressive.


There are 300,000 religious congregations in this country that paid no tax, no federal state or local, no income sales or property tax, and they own 600 billion dollars in property like st.

Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in New York.

If you sell cheap sweaters like they do across the street, at forever 21 you pay taxes, but if you're selling the invisible product of eternal, whatever no taxes, so to recap, forever 21 taxes forever 33, no taxes.

You know Scientology founder l ron Hubbard once said that the only way to make any real money in this world was to start a religion and even though the one he started only has about thirty thousand members.

It owns billions in real estate tax scot-free, and that makes me hopping mad.

The Supreme Court of the United States really needs to take a case about taxing churches, because it hasn't done that since 1970 and since then religion has become much less popular, especially with younger people.

So then religion is the new pubic.

Hair 35% of Millennials want nothing to do with it and the rest worship.

An ancient Jew born over 2,000 years ago, Bernie Sanders, and it's not just Millennials my flock, the atheists, agnostics and anti religionists out.

There are now the second biggest denomination in America right behind of angelical x', we're 22.8%.

That means almost a quarter of us in America are being forced to subsidize a myth that we're not buying into.

Why am I subsidizing their Sunday morning? Hobby? They don't subsidize mine.

So this right here, in my opinion, is Bill.

Maher at is 100% best.

So if you exempt churches from paying their taxes, well, then you're giving them a privilege that non religious organizations don't have and I think that's unfair and it's not giving all organizations and entities equal protection under the law.

Now, just to give you a taste of how profitable some of these mega churches are.

We have Kenneth Copeland, who has a net worth of 760 million dollars, he's almost a billionaire now.

Furthermore, we have Rick Warren twenty five million dollars, John Hagee net worth of five million, and you know him and his son both preach homophobia day in and day out.

Furthermore, pat robertson net worth of a hundred million dollars, billy graham net worth of 25 million benny hinn 42 million.

This is the guy that literally will put his hat on people and they'll fall down and start like freaking out, even when my family was religious.

We already knew this.

This is [ __ ] who believes this.

So the fact that he's a multi-millionaire and his net worth is 42 million blows my mind and just proves that people will believe anything and a couple more Joel, Olsteen 40 million.

Is this net worth and then we have creflo dollar twenty seven million dollars.

So now, in theory, there are non-religious people who don't mind subsidising the tax-exempt status of churches.

Now this is because in theory, churches provide a social good, so in their communities they provide people with clothing, banks and food banks and do charitable work, but there's a counter-argument to that.

In my opinion, that's pretty persuasive.

So if you actually tax churches, then you could increase the social good that much more so by not taxing churches, you leave what they do in their own hands.

So, for example, my old church, when I was religious, you can only get their charity services if you actually were a member of the church, and so, if you didn't go to their church, sorry you're out of luck.

It was very rare that they would help someone in the community just for the sake of doing so.

But if you tax them, you could put that money towards I believe a larger social good, strengthen our social safety net.

So that way, everyone doesn't matter if you're, religious or non-religious can get help.

So you could do a lot better for the world if you actually do tax these organizations now, there's also a constitutional argument in favor of taxing churches.

First and foremost, it violates the separation of church and state because it provides a financial benefit to these religious organizations and it doesn't give that same privilege to secular organizations and that's not fair.


Furthermore, in waltz, the tax commission of the city of New, York, Justice Douglas, said it best.

He said if believers are entitled to a public financial support, so are non-believers.

A believer and non-believer under the present law are treated differently because of the articles of their faith.

I concluded that this tax exemption is unconstitutional now.

Furthermore, it is not a right for churches to be tax-exempt.

This is just a privilege, that's how it's viewed under the law and additionally, another way how churches are treated better than just standard nonprofit organizations who do charitable work is that these nonprofit organizations every single year they have to file an IRS, Form tax form, 990 I, believe it is and what they have to do is just they have to file and renew their tax-exempt status each year, but churches.

On the other hand, they don't even have to file their federal taxes.

They don't have to file a tax form 990.

They just get to get away with being taxes them every single year now.

Furthermore, in 1954 there was a law that was passed, that banned churches from being politically active, and a problem is that many churches are violating this law and they go and punish for this and many in census, so you saw with the Mormon Church and how they pushed for proposition.

8 in California to ban marriage equality, you see all the time in different states.

Church organizations pushing these anti transgender bathroom bills, and this is the definition of political activity.

So if churches are treated better than other nonprofit and charitable organizations, if they often break the law, if they have privileges that other businesses, yes, churches are businesses because they make a profit if they're treated better and are more privileged than other businesses who are not religious.

Well, then, that violates equal protection under the law.

You can't do that.

You can't treat secular people different than religious people, so for that reason we got a tax churches.

It's just a constitutionally sound argument and it's also what's ethical.

It's time we tax churches take that money put it towards the social good, because we can't rely on churches to do the right thing.

We can use that money to fund universal health care, universal education to actually help everyone, and not just religious people.



Why did the church tax people? ›

A church tax is a tax collected by the state from members of some religious denominations to provide financial support of churches, such as the salaries of its clergy and to pay the operating cost of the church.

What are the IRS requirements for a church? ›

They include:
  • Distinct legal existence.
  • Recognized creed and form of worship.
  • Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government.
  • Formal code of doctrine and discipline.
  • Distinct religious history.
  • Membership not associated with any other church or denomination.
  • Organization of ordained ministers.

What is a tax paid to the church called? ›

Share: Charitable donations are tax deductible and the IRS considers church tithing tax deductible as well. To deduct the amount you tithe to your church or place of worship report the amount you donate to qualified charitable organizations, such as churches, on Schedule A.

What countries tax churches? ›

Among the 15 Western European countries we surveyed, six have mandatory taxes for members of the largest churches to help finance their activities – Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.

Can a church require employees to tithe? ›

“Regardless of whether this is a church, or not a church, or a nonprofit or a for-profit corporation, requiring employees to rebate any wages to an employer is an unlawful practice,” said Eric Nusser, one of Kellogg's attorneys at Terrell Marshall Law Group.

What does the Bible say about taxes with church? ›

Specifically, Luke 2:12-13 — "Some tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, 'Teacher, what are we to do?' Don't collect more than is legal, he told them." And in Romans 13:6-7, St. Paul writes, "That is also why you pay taxes, because the authorities are working for God when they fulfill their duties.

Can a church get in trouble with the IRS? ›

The IRS follows the laws set for it by the congress which implicitly do not permit interference with Churches.

Should a pastor be on the church bank account? ›

The pastor should be a signer on the church bank accounts as a matter of establishing new authority after a pastoral transition. Each church bank account should have at least three signers; the pastor, a steward (maybe the pro-tem or financial secretary), and a trustee.

Do pastors have to file taxes? ›

Regardless of whether you're a minister performing ministerial services as an employee or a self-employed person, all of your earnings, including wages, offerings, and fees you receive for performing marriages, baptisms, funerals, etc., are subject to income tax.

What happens if you don't give tithes? ›

God cannot accept the payment of tithes because of what Jesus has done. But God will accept you GIVING A TITHE. He will not punish you if you do not give a tithe.

Is it mandatory to tithe? ›

There's no scripture that outright says you have to tithe on money you receive as a gift, but that doesn't mean you can't. So, it looks like this is a decision between you and God.

What are the 3 tithes? ›

There are three types of tithes mentioned in the Old Testament. Each has a specific purpose. The Levitical tithe, the feast tithe, and the poor tithe were not given to the same people and provided for different needs.

Why don t pastors pay taxes? ›

Because clergy have a dual tax status as both employees and self-employed people, a church does not withhold taxes like it would for a standard employee.

How much money do churches make in the US? ›

Congregations in the U.S. earn a huge amount of money every year. The latest church revenue statistics show that religious congregations in the U.S. take in around $74.5 billion per year. Around 17 million American Christians visit the official websites of their churches regularly.

Is money received from a church taxable? ›

For purposes of U.S. tax law, churches are considered to be public charities, also known as Section 501(c)(3) organizations. As such, they are generally exempt from federal, state, and local income and property taxes.

Should tithes be paid to the church or pastor? ›

The right thing to do and the right place where tithe should be paid is no other place than the local church. The payment should be made at the local church because that is where the spiritual benefits are being derived.

Why Christians are not obligated to pay tithes? ›

There is not one passage of Scripture telling any Jew or Christian to give 10% of their money to a religious institution. Second, while tithing is biblical it is not Christian. This was strictly a practice for the nation of Israel under the Old Covenant which has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ in the New Covenant.

Can I tithe anonymously? ›

The Church receives notice that there are $$ available in the Anonymous Account, and a transfer is initiated. No one in the church sees who made the donations in the total Anonymous fund. Make it so! Anonymous is Biblical and much needed.

Where in the Bible does it say if you owe taxes pay taxes? ›

ESV Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. NIV Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Where in the Bible does it say even tax collectors do that? ›

Matthew 5:46-47 New King James Version (NKJV)

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

What does Matthew 17 24 27 mean? ›

Jesus is not concerned at all about where they were going to get the money to pay the tax. He tells Peter exactly where to go, what to do, and how to find the money to pay the temple tax. God knows what we need before we tell him.

Do churches ever get audited by the IRS? ›

The IRS may begin a church tax inquiry only if an appropriate high-level Treasury official reasonably believes, based on a written statement of the facts and circumstances, that the organization: (a) may not qualify for the exemption; or (b) may not be paying tax on unrelated business or other taxable activity.

How does the IRS classify churches? ›

Churches (including integrated auxiliaries and conventions or associations of churches) that meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of exempt status from the IRS.

What are the disadvantages of a 501c3 church? ›

Limited purpose: 501c3 churches are subject to limitations based on the law. If they act outside of those limitations, they can lose their nonprofit status. If they make money outside of their purposes, they can be subject to Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT)

Can a church pay a pastor's Social Security? ›

Churches are prohibited from paying FICA tax for clergy but are encouraged to pay a social security allowance for their pastor, which offsets their social security burden. Many churches assume at least 50% of its pastor's Social Security tax burden by providing a Social Security Allowance to him or her.

Who owns the money in a church? ›

The church and all its assets, according to him, solely belong to God and God alone.

How much money should a church have in the bank? ›

As a guideline, aim to designate 10% of the church budget towards building up your cash reserves. This may require reworking the budget to reduce expenses. If you can't do 10% right away, aim for 5% and build up. First, the money should be set aside to build up three to six months of operative costs.

What is the housing allowance for pastors in 2023? ›

Housing Allowance - The minimum Housing Allowance for 2023 has been increased to $26,400.

How much should a pastor withhold for taxes? ›

Pastors/ministers are responsible for both the employer and employee portion of the tax - a total of 15.3% on salary + housing allowance. SECA Allowance: Some churches will offer ministers a SECA allowance to cover the employer's portion of 7.65% of salary + housing allowance.

Can a church pay the pastor as 1099? ›

Some churches give their pastors a Form W-2while others provide their pastors with a Form 1099-MISC.

Should I tithe on Social Security? ›

ANSWER: It is believed that one should tithe from the gross of any increase one receives. When you tithe from your gross, you tithe from the overall amount from which your social security has been deducted. When you retire, you don't need to tithe on that income as you returned tithe on it while working.

What did Jesus say about tithing? ›

He then follows up his encouragements by saying, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously”(2 Cor. 9:6). Instead of prescribing a certain amount or percent, the New Testament churches were simply encouraged to give generously.

How much should you tithe each week? ›

A tithe is 10%. But Christians under New Testament law are not bound to Old Testament law. So give as much as you'd like, even far and beyond a tithe!

Where in the Bible does it say you don't have to tithe? ›

When Christians are instructed to give to the poor, they aren't commanded to give “the poor tithe.” Instead, they are instructed to be generous in helping those in need (Acts 2:43–47; 4:32–37; 11:27–30; Gal. 2:10; 1 Cor. 16:1–4; 2 Cor. 8:1–9:15).

Why is tithing not mentioned in the New Testament? ›

The idea of the tithe is still present in the New Testament (Matthew 23:23), but it is never explicitly applied to believers. Instead, almost all Christians are called to more extravagant freewill giving in response to the gospel of the Lord Jesus, based on faith in God as Provider (2 Corinthians 9:6-10).

What churches have mandatory tithing? ›

Tithing remains an important doctrine in many Christian denominations, such as the Congregationalist Churches, Methodist Churches and Seventh-day Adventist Church.

What is the poor man's tithe? ›

The poor tithe, or poor man's tithe, also referred to as the pauper's tithe or the third tithe, is a triennial tithe of one's produce, required in Jewish law. It requires that one tenth of produce grown in the third and sixth years of the seven-year sabbatical cycle be given to the Levites and the poor.

Why do churches ask for tithes? ›

When we pay tithing we show gratitude for all that God has given us and return to Him a portion of what we have received. Tithing is used to build temples and meetinghouses, translate and publish the scriptures, do missionary and family history work, and in other ways build God's kingdom on earth.

Should all tithes go to the Church? ›

Most churchgoers say the Bible commands them to give. But their tithes don't always go in the offering plate. Half of Protestant churchgoers say their tithes can go to a Christian ministry rather than a church.

Do nuns pay taxes? ›

Priests, nuns, monks and brothers who take vows of poverty don't pay taxes so long as they work for a Catholic institution. They rely on their superiors for a modest living allowance, which isn't taxable.

What pastor avoids 150000 in taxes? ›

America's richest pastor avoids $150,000 in annual taxes on a $7 million Texas mansion that he said God told him to build, report says. Kenneth Copeland built a giant mansion in 1999, then used a loophole in Texas law for "parsonages" to exempt it from property taxes.

Do preachers pay tax on their salary? ›

Pastors and State and Federal Income Tax Withholding

Churches must generally withhold state and federal income taxes from most of their employees' wages. However, while ministers must pay income taxes as employees, the church is not responsible for withholding those taxes as an employer.

What is the richest church in America? ›

List of wealthiest religious organizations
OrganizationWorth (billion USD)Country
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints100.0United States
Sree Venkateswara Swamy Temple30.0India
Catholic Church in Germany26.0Germany
Catholic Church in France23.0France
9 more rows

What religion gives the most to charity? ›

Charitable effort correlates strongly with the frequency with which a person attends religious services. Evangelical Protestants and Mormons in particular are strong givers.

Do churches report tithes to IRS? ›

Charitable donations are tax deductible and the IRS considers church tithing tax deductible as well. To deduct the amount you tithe to your church or place of worship report the amount you donate to qualified charitable organizations, such as churches, on Schedule A.

Is it OK to give a pastor a gift? ›

Many churches and church members really appreciate their pastors. Often they seek to demonstrate their appreciation in tangible ways by giving gifts to the church and designating the gift for the benefit of a specific pastor, or they give the gift directly to their pastor.

Can I give my pastor money as a gift? ›

In many cases, a one-time gift for special occasions like birthday, Christmas, or anniversaries are non-taxable to the pastors. In other cases, it would depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding the gift. Call us if you would like to discuss how to handle a love offering.

Did the church tax people in the Middle Ages? ›

In the Middle Ages, the Catholic church in Europe collected a tax of its own, separate from the kings' taxes, which was called a tithe. Tithe means “one-tenth”, because people were supposed to give the Church one-tenth of all the income they earned.

Why did people in the Bible not like tax collectors? ›

Background. Tax collectors were hated in biblical times and were regarded as sinners. They were Jews who worked for the Romans, so this made them traitors. People resented paying taxes to the foreigners who ruled over them.

When did churches stop having to pay taxes? ›

Similarly, the federal government has exempted churches and other religious organizations from federal taxation in the modern federal tax code since ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1913.

What was a tax paid to the church in medieval times? ›

People would tithe, or pay a tax, to the church, representing 10% of their income. One way the Church used this wealth was to influence politics. In fact, the upper levels of the Catholic Church, such as the Pope, were often more powerful than Europe's monarchs.

Is the Catholic Church the richest organization in the world? ›

We decided to look at the Catholic Church because with 1.36 billion members around the world, Catholics make up the biggest denomination in the biggest religious group on the planet. It's also one of the wealthiest.

Who paid tithes in the Middle Ages? ›

All householders were liable to pay tithes unless the property they owned or occupied was specifically exempted due to some long standing custom or association with the parish.

What did tithe mean in the Middle Ages? ›

tithe, (from Old English teogothian, “tenth”), a custom dating back to Old Testament times and adopted by the Christian church whereby lay people contributed a 10th of their income for religious purposes, often under ecclesiastical or legal obligation.

Why did Jesus eat with the tax collectors? ›

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

What did Jesus say about tax collectors? ›

The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

Who was the greedy tax collector in the Bible? ›

Zacchaeus was a tax collector who features in the Bible. Jesus convinced him to reflect on his greedy ways when visiting Jericho.

Can the IRS tax a church? ›

Churches and religious organizations are generally exempt from income tax and receive other favorable treatment under the tax law; however, certain income of a church or religious organization may be subject to tax, such as income from an unrelated business.

Can churches write off taxes? ›

Church donations are tax deductible only to churches that meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. If your church meets these requirements, you receive tax-exempt status automatically without having to apply for recognition of exempt status with the IRS.

What were the tickets to heaven called? ›

Indulgences were intended to offer remission of the temporal punishment due to sin equivalent to that someone might obtain by performing a canonical penance for a specific period of time.

What was the tithe that peasants paid to the Church? ›

The peasants had to pay tithes to the Church during the Middle Ages. The tithes meant that the peasants had to give 10% of their produce, such as animals, crops or goods, to the Church.

Did peasants have to pay taxes to their lord? ›

Most of the peasants were farmers, but some were tradesmen, such as millers or tavern owners. The farmers leased their land and also paid taxes to the lord and to the king. Most farmers were not free, but rather were serfs.

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