# Religion and tax.

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Xelasnave.1947, Mar 3, 2017.

1. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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There is always a war. That has no bearing on the charitable practices of the wealthy - who are even more likely these days than in 1940 to have shares in war-related industries and stand to profit hugely.
However, the trends have changed since then. Rich people now hide their money in other countries, in long-term investments and in endowments for their favourite university or private school, where none of it will get to the poor in trouble. A few very wealthy people start their own non-profit organizations or foundations. These are far bigger tax shelters than a simple yearly pledge. They are also potentially very effective: some to dig wells in Africa; some buy business contacts in South America and big portraits of Der Founder.
As for regular donations, the trend, according to the Forbes article I cited above is for the rich to give less and the poor to give more, relative to their incomes. Part of the reason for this is that wealth no longer has a nationality. A few rich people, like Carnegie, used to feel some obligation to put something back into the country that made them rich. Now, wealth is taken from all over the globe, its making causes misery all over the globe; it's harder to localize the source of and easier to escape the guilt.

While I don't know what an opportunity cost is, I do know that a church should not be entitled to financial credit for any volunteer work done by its members.
Tax can only be calculated with accuracy on financial transactions.
Now, the church is not taxed on money freely (or under psychological duress) given by it members - which is also deductible on the members' income tax.
Fine, if those tithes are used for the upkeep of churches, their staff, supplies and vestments. Fine, if used for community projects and services.
The portion that goes to commercial enterprises should be taxed, and whatever income those enterprises earn should be taxed, like any other business.
To whom does it seem fair that the Vatican's bank and the corner loan shark should be equally unburdened by civic responsibility?

Last edited: Mar 12, 2017

3. ### SyneSine qua nonValued Senior Member

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Poor people tend to give out of a misguided and often subconscious belief that karma will then aid them in return. Just like you said, "because they know what it's like to need help." It's the same sort of motivation that finds poor people playing the lottery more. In neither case are they situated to be spending the money, but irrational beliefs motivate them to anyway. From your link, "Religiosity is another factor driving up giving among low- and middle-income Americans. " Without the tax exemption, those sources and motivators of charity could not persist.
Destroying the charity infrastructure will not help charity.
The war only showed the need to incentivize, rather than penalize, charity. The recent recession would have been equally threatening to the charitable infrastructure, i.e. the existing routes of getting donations to their intended recipients. And as Jeeves' link points out, "Higher-income people tend to give proportionately less during tough economic times."

5. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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Where did this factoid spring from?
That's not about karma; that's about community - the oldest and most solid social contract. If you respond when others need help, they are more likely to come to your aid when you're in trouble.
No, that's desperation: they see no other way out of poverty. In this case - though most of them don't realize it - poor people are betting against one another.
The biggest beneficiary is government, which allocates some of the gains to charities, while raking back as much or more on welfare services.

Rich people actually gamble a lot more by volume, but they do it on the stock market, in ritzy casinos and exclusive clubs, and they do it for kicks.
What it doesn't mention:
Economic times become "tough" in direct proportion to the skimming off the GDP by the top 0.001%. The top 0.01% are totally insulated from any effects of the toughness of economic times; the top 0.1% are more than adequately insulated; the top 1% may be at risk, but far less so than the 49% directly below them. The bottom 50% just go from poor to dirt poor and start voting irrationally.

But what has this to do with taxing churches on their commercial property and phenomenal earnings?

Last edited: Mar 12, 2017

7. ### SyneSine qua nonValued Senior Member

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It's a corollary of the fact that the poor give more than the rich (your link). The wealthy are more financially independent and can weather downturns much more readily, while the poor often rely on the charity of others when disaster hits. This means that the poorer have a greater incentive to build and maintain group cooperation....for their own potential misfortunes.
It's tempting to think that the rich are richer because they are more selfish or single-mindedly focused on their own advancement, but Piff's research suggests otherwise. His experiment primed subjects by showing sympathy inducing videos and encouraging them to imagine themselves in different financial circumstances. That changed their reactions -- for both sets of subjects. In other words, the poor, imagining themselves rich, became less altruistic. The rich, imagining themselves poor, became more generous to the destitute and ill. Piff concluded: "Empathy and compassion appeared to be the key ingredients" in the generosity of the poor. - https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hidden-motives/201008/why-are-the-poor-more-generous
If your satisfied leaving it at "empathy", that's your prerogative. But it does seem to be linked to which group your imagine yourself in, even for the rich. It is an own-group motivated behavior, and group cooperation has typically had an individual survival motive in evolutionary psychology.
Exactly. Don't get hung up on the semantics of "karma". It is this exact self-interest that I was alluding to. The "get what you give" notion central to karma.
The less independence people have the more they tend to believe in luck, both for their gains and misfortunes.
Aside from your erroneous zero-sum game thinking about economic causation, e.g. "skimming", who said the rich were at greater risk? The poor actually feel the impact of a downturn in the finances of the rich much more than the rich themselves...because the rich provide jobs.
Funny you should ask, since you seem to have selectively failed to quote everything in my post speaking directly to that, e.g.:
From your link, "Religiosity is another factor driving up giving among low- and middle-income Americans. " Without the tax exemption, those sources and motivators of charity could not persist.
Destroying the charity infrastructure will not help charity.

The recent recession would have been equally threatening to the charitable infrastructure, i.e. the existing routes of getting donations to their intended recipients. - http://www.sciforums.com/threads/religion-and-tax.159004/page-3#post-3443145

Why do poorer people tend to give more? One reason might have to do with how they give -- the poor tend to give to churches and other organizations that directly help the needy with basic needs. Wealthier people tend to give to universities, the arts, or organizations that fight disease. - http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865625341/Do-the-poor-give-more-than-the-rich.html

8. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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The OP question wasn't about taxing or not taxing individuals on their charitable donations, or how much exemptions influence the amount they give.
It was about taxing the churches on their income and properties.

So, my positions is: if it will help sell the taxing of commercial church assets, go ahead and remove the exemption from individual income tax.

9. ### SyneSine qua nonValued Senior Member

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LOL! I was talking about organization tax exemptions. Ergo, my mention of "charitable infrastructure".
If you want to tear down the infrastructure that collects, distributes, and helps motivate charity....well, that's your own moral conundrum to justify to yourself.

10. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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Tearing down might not be a bad idea, in the case of at least two infrastructures.
Far too much government downloading of its responsibilities onto charity, and too much unlegislated revenues in the form of lotteries touted as charitable, unaccounted. At the same time, too many governments are supporting religious organizations with secular tax moneys.
Far too many religious organizations are getting away with massive fraud involving untaxed and unaudited income.
So, yeah; tear those suckers down!

On the other hand, some of the established secular charities do excellent work and are honest in their accounting. And some are utterly bogus. Many are inefficient and/or ineffective, and of course there is the usual range of corruption and incompetence.
Reform might be easier.

Ideally, no charity should ever be needed.

Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
11. ### SyneSine qua nonValued Senior Member

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So if it can't be perfect, which is unattainable, throw it all out...damn the poor.

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13. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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Refusing to collect tax on church properties and loan interest doesn't help the poor.
All the time churches were not taxed, the poor went right on being poor.
In fact, this whole question has nothing to do with the poor, who are, and have always been, damned anyway.
The only solution is not to impoverish a segment of the population.

14. ### SyneSine qua nonValued Senior Member

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Really? Churches haven't help ANYONE the whole time?

You can thank LBJ's Great Society for the flattened rate of poverty improvement.
Yes, we all know leftists love a permanent underclass. And your zero-sum game mentality demonstrates your dearth of economic understanding.

15. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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No..... All the time churches were not taxed, the poor went right on being poor.
Not taxing churches didn't end poverty.
See the DIFFERENCE?
Really? The untaxed churches were not able to overcome a setback 40 years ago? Then what good are they?
Does this have something to do with selective taxation of commercial properties, interest or capital gains?

16. ### Xelasnave.1947Valued Senior Member

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I thought the right to be more interested in a permanent underclass.

I know everyone has the opportunity to become rich but few can or ever will.

So although the right use this dream to defend their critism of leftist ideals what it means we have a system where one may make it whilst thousands never escape the underclass.

The, ideal, left want equality rather than a permanent underclass but humans corrupt the ideal.

I would think a system where all paid tax (churches, foundations etc) but recieved deductions for charitable work should minimise the corruption present in the current system... if for no other reason that to get at the church of scientology... and you can bet they are not the only ones taking advatage of the tax exemption benefit.
A system of tax with appropriate deductions would not take away anything from genuine charitable work and presumably would see tax lost thru corruption collected and available to government projects. Of course if you see the government as the enemy givi g them more tax probably is the last thing you want.
Alex

17. ### SyneSine qua nonValued Senior Member

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So if it didn't solve the problem for all time it didn't help at all? False dilemma there, mate.
Who said anything about churches? I was talking about the historic trend of US poverty in general. Welfare stalled poverty improvement.
Only by leftist inference.
The poor remain poor largely due to welfare, as I've already shown.

18. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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Quote where I said they didn't help at all.
Then prove how not taxing churches did help at all.

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20. ### Xelasnave.1947Valued Senior Member

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I would think this would be a chicken or egg first thing.
I thought an economy needs a certain percentage unemployed otherwise inflation runs wild.
I am not trying to be leftist I am not political. But I think without welfare the poor would riot,
Alex

21. ### Michael 345Next mythical choc bunnies for mystic who diedValued Senior Member

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Not sure about that or how it could be figured out

How about if the general level of wealth was so high that the poor were sick of cavair?

22. ### Xelasnave.1947Valued Senior Member

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I am only a simple man but I have read about it. I think the Reserve bank adjusts interest rates to achieve "optimum unenmployement". It was in a text book I had when I did the real estate tech course. I thought unemployment payments a way to stop folk complaining they had no work and a way of getting money into the economy notwithstanding a particular unemployement figure.
But its hard to be poor in this country these days even on social security.
Except for housing, which can be had cheap if you go bush, things are cheap.
In the old days I laid out a fotune for vid camera, four track sound desk, still camera, computer and not to forget the mobile phone $5000 dollars... Now everything I want in a smart phone under$100.
If you are happy with a second handcar you can buy real cheap. And boats.. I can buy so many cheap boats ...Boats are given away.
Alex

23. ### SyneSine qua nonValued Senior Member

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Where on earth did you come up with that bizarre notion? More employment would mean more money circulating in the economy, and businesses grow and multiply to absorb the greater spending power of more people. The more businesses the more competition, and generally the lower the prices of goods and services.
However, the unemployment rate generally only affects inflation in the short-term but not the long-term. In the long term, the velocity of money supply measures such as the MZM ("Money Zero Maturity," representing cash and equivalent demand deposits) velocity is far more predictive of inflation than low unemployment.

In Marxian economics, the unemployed serve as a reserve army of labor, which restrain wage inflation. In the 20th century, similar concepts in Keynesian economics include the NAIRU (Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment) and the Phillips curve.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation#Unemployment
Wage inflation is a problem where there aren't enough qualified workers, so even if you have a reserve of unemployed, nothing guarantees that they are qualified to fill the need, and prolonged unemployment tends to make people less qualified.

Without welfare, there would be incentives to work, graduate high school, and marry before having children...the three biggest predictors of getting out of poverty.