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Law & Order Discuss Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organizatio at the Political Forums; American Atheists and other secular groups are taking the IRS to court over what they say is the preferential treatment ...

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Old 11-26-2013, 10:58 AM
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Post Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organizatio

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American Atheists and other secular groups are taking the IRS to court over what they say is the preferential treatment the tax-collection agency gives to religious organizations.

Studies show that Americans subsidize religious organizations to the tune of an estimated $71 billion annually, in the form of tax-exemptions.

“This is about equality,” American Atheists President David Silverman said in a statement. “This is about the U.S. government holding everyone to the same standard and giving the same rights to all. No exceptions. We are seeing religions getting preferential treatment by our government, a government that is supposed to serve us and respect us all as equals, and that’s wrong. It’s not what this country is about and it’s unpatriotic.”

Dave Muscato, a spokesman for American Atheists, told Newsweek, “We find it discriminatory, so we’re suing. The way that this is set up, we all pay for it. We’re all supporting churches for what they do.”
In court filings, the advocacy group argues that a 1961 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that “neither the federal government nor state governments can ‘constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God, as against those religions founded on different beliefs’” supports their claims. American Atheists is also arguing that church-only tax breaks, such as the “parsonage exemption,” which lets clergy members write off housing expenses from their taxable income, aren’t constitutionally kosher, since “non-religious entities may not take any deductions for the housing or living expenses of their employees or volunteers.”
Because religious organizations are automatically granted a tax-exempt status and are not required to file forms that non-religious organizations must, American Atheists claim secular groups are unfairly burdened, while religious organizations have a fundraising advantage that includes not having to reveal their donors.

Oral arguments began last week.
Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organizations | The New Civil Rights Movement

I have long held a belief that atheism is still a religion.
A belief that God does not exist is a belief system on God.
"Agnosticism" (having no definite belief) would be an example of "not a religion".

I personally question the justification for religion being tax exempt. But I think this lawsuit is doomed to fail for a couple of reasons.
1) Cultural bias. The assumption that churches should receive tax exemption is too deeply ingrained in our society.
2) According to the information in the article, I miss at least one angle that would be more of a smoking gun. If the atheists (filing as a religion) attempted to file for the same right but were denied, that would be more of an issue. However, filing for that capability would have to also argue that atheism is a religion and thus

3)
Regarding the 1961 case they cite, it appears to be Torcaso v. Watkins - 367 U.S. 488 (1961)
Torcaso v. Watkins - 367 U.S. 488 (1961) :: Justia US Supreme Court Center
Torcaso v. Watkins - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I haven't had the time to review the quote / case more in depth, but rudimentary review indicates active discrimination against an atheist who held a government position but had it revoked because the Constitution of Maryland required "a declaration of belief in the existence of God" in order for a person to hold "any office of profit or trust in this State".[2] (wikipedia article)

The quote from the article specifies "against". The 1961 case clearly demonstrates "against" as the atheist lost the position for refusing to declare belief in God.
It could be argued that there is nothing "against" atheists here, and if they filed for the same tax exemption they could get it.
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:17 AM
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Default Re: Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organiz

I have always argued that religions should not have tax exemptions, especially in this day and age when they speak out politically about certain agenda items like abortion and immigration. All churches should pay taxes like any other organization and/or business.

On this I agree with the atheists. I see this going to the Supreme Court so it will be years before we will know how it will play out. I hope they win though.
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Old 11-26-2013, 01:11 PM
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Default Re: Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organiz

Atheist groups can file for tax exemption just like any other religion or non-profit group. Do we really want to go down the road where we tax churches and non-profits on the donations given to them? I think that has bad idea written all over it.
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Old 11-26-2013, 01:32 PM
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Post Re: Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organiz

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Atheist groups can file for tax exemption just like any other religion or non-profit group. Do we really want to go down the road where we tax churches and non-profits on the donations given to them? I think that has bad idea written all over it.
You're blurring two issues by using the phrase "churches and non-profits".
This is about carte blanche religious tax exemptions.
Non-profits have to prove themselves within explicit, legislated boundaries.
Churches don't really have those boundaries.

This should be simply about leveling that playing field. If a religion abides by the non-profit restrictions, they get the same type of coverage.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:17 PM
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Default Re: Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organiz

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You're blurring two issues by using the phrase "churches and non-profits".
This is about carte blanche religious tax exemptions.
Non-profits have to prove themselves within explicit, legislated boundaries.
Churches don't really have those boundaries.

This should be simply about leveling that playing field. If a religion abides by the non-profit restrictions, they get the same type of coverage.
No, you're making irrelevent distinctions. Churches most certainly do have to prove themselves within specific boundries. Don't let your distain for religion cloud your judgment. Do you really want to consider removing the tax exemption from the biggest charities in the country?

Not to mention the 1A fight the gov't would have the first time they shutdown a church because they couldn't pay taxes.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:28 PM
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Post Re: Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organiz

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No, you're making irrelevent distinctions.
If they're so irrelevant then why did you specify "churches and non-profits".
Obviously, you acknowledged the distinction between the two in the previous post. So don't try to backtrack and pretend I'm the one making an "irrelevant" distinction.

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Churches most certainly do have to prove themselves within specific boundries. Don't let your distain for religion cloud your judgment. Do you really want to consider removing the tax exemption from the biggest charities in the country?
No. I'm recognizing EXISTING distinctions.
The religious "boundaries" that churches have to prove themselves are different from the non-profit boundaries.

Don't start lame strawman comments.
I'm talking about making the churches adhere to the existing non-profit boundaries. Their "charity" work (which falls under non-profit boundaries) would not be affected, correct?

Do you fail to appreciate the full scope of how tax exemption affects churches in ways that it does not cover simple non-religious non-profits?


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Not to mention the 1A fight the gov't would have the first time they shutdown a church because they couldn't pay taxes.
Why "couldn't" they pay their taxes?
Would it be more heinous to shut down a non-profit charity, as opposed to a church?

Religion is clouding somebody's eyes here, but it ain't mine.
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:50 PM
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Default Re: Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organiz

I'm surprised atheists are concerned about this given the season. Usually this time of year these idiots are more concerned with ruining Christmas for others, spreading misery to as many people as they can, and making sure no one at the malls say, "Merry Christmas."

I'm guessing this crap will be laughed outta court.

The American Atheists are just a hateful group that despise religion and relentlessly try to mock both it and its followers. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt to keep their name in the headlines.

This whole court thing is gonna take time away from their anti-religion billboard campaign.
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:56 PM
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Default Re: Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organiz

Correct me if I am wrong but Church's are a Not for Profit Organization. They are only subject to no tax on profits. From what I know the employees of the Church still pay income tax, the church still pays real estate tax, they just don't pay if they make a profit. I guess they get supplies tax exempt.

That is my understanding of it and I may very well be wrong so I am just asking a question here.





I guess if true I don't know if a Church that don't operate in the red so even if taxed they wouldn't pay. Not?
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Old 11-26-2013, 06:07 PM
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Default Re: Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organiz

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I'm surprised atheists are concerned about this given the season. Usually this time of year these idiots are more concerned with ruining Christmas for others, spreading misery to as many people as they can, and making sure no one at the malls say, "Merry Christmas."
You have an uncanny knack for coming on a thread, thoroughly failing to understand what the issue actually is, and responding to positions that haven't actually been presented.

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Originally Posted by Kert View Post
Correct me if I am wrong but Church's are a Not for Profit Organization. They are only subject to no tax on profits. From what I know the employees of the Church still pay income tax, the church still pays real estate tax, they just don't pay if they make a profit. I guess they get supplies tax exempt.
That is my understanding of it and I may very well be wrong so I am just asking a question here.
Some examples...
Tax Exemptions Available to Churches
Why Do Pastors Receive a Tax Exemption for Housing? | Acton PowerBlog

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Originally Posted by Kert View Post
I guess if true I don't know if a Church that don't operate in the red so even if taxed they wouldn't pay. Not?
While I understand a lot of the regular size churches will probably be on the lower scale, there are mega-churches that rake in a LOT of money.
Mega churches mean big business - CNN.com
Quote:
Scott Thumma, professor of sociology and religion at Hartford Seminary told CNN that "the mega church on average has about $6.5 million in income a year."
Also, from the first article: "Studies show that Americans subsidize religious organizations to the tune of an estimated $71 billion annually, in the form of tax-exemptions."

I think churches should fall under the same category of existing charities and non-profits, where applicable. As discussed above, religion gets many perks and exemptions that are not available to regular charities / non-profits.
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Old 11-26-2013, 06:25 PM
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Default Re: Atheists Take IRS To Court Over Preferential Treatment Given To Religious Organiz

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If they're so irrelevant then why did you specify "churches and non-profits".
Obviously, you acknowledged the distinction between the two in the previous post. So don't try to backtrack and pretend I'm the one making an "irrelevant" distinction.
It's just a catagory; churches, charities, non-profits, whatever. Nice try at a b.s. nitpick though.

Quote:
No. I'm recognizing EXISTING distinctions.
The religious "boundaries" that churches have to prove themselves are different from the non-profit boundaries.
Ok, give us a relevent distinction that would show cause to tax churches on donations but not say United Way.

Quote:
Do you fail to appreciate the full scope of how tax exemption affects churches in ways that it does not cover simple non-religious non-profits?
No.

Quote:
Why "couldn't" they pay their taxes?
Who knows? A miscalculation, accounting error, unexpected expenses or perhaps they just used the money to fund the food bank instead.

Quote:
Would it be more heinous to shut down a non-profit charity, as opposed to a church?
Of course not, I never indicated it would be. However, it would be less likely to be a 1A issue.

Quote:
Religion is clouding somebody's eyes here, but it ain't mine.
No, religion isn't clouding either of our eyes. It's your distain, or hate if you prefer, that clouds your vision.

Tell me, what possible good could come from taxing a churches donations?
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