Is the upcoming Senate investigation of pastors' extravagant lifestyles a church vs state issue?

Please don't just say "yes" or "no", give this some thought.

Are the pastors of megachurches violating the US tax code by living extravagant lives with huge mansions, private jets, Rolls Royces, and $23,000 dollar commodes, or is the Senate entering into strictly church territory?

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?story...

17 Answers

Relevance
  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    it's probably a tax fraud thing. non-profit have pretty specific limitations on how they spend their tax-free dollars. and it's probably fuel by consumer fraud complaints. people like joyce meyer preach the gospel, and solicit contributions to support their 'missionary' work, but then use those contributions for their extravagant lifestyle.

    it's not a church v. state case it's a tax code and consumer fraud case, and they should expand it to include churches that interfere with the electoral process.

  • 1 decade ago

    There would appear to be reason for further investigation of possibly questionable practices involving the transfer of tax-deductible, donated revenue (income) to the pockets of these pastors (salaries and benefits).

    As an officer of a tax-exempt religious organization, I know first-hand that these rules are very strict. In our religious group, we carefully follow the U.S. tax code, which holds that we may not use tax-exempt donations we have received to benefit one of our employees or members - EVER!

    Not even to assist a member who has become suddenly unemployed and is ill. To help one of our own members, we would have to do a completely separate, non-tax-exempt fund raising campaign. This is in accord with the law, and it seems fair to us.

    I know other clergymen, who as employees of the Church, have to fill out form out 1040 and State taxes every year. Because their salaries are generally pretty meager, and they may be taxed at a lower rate because their salaries are derived from non-profits, they probably pay little tax. However, if a clergyman holds an interest in a for-profit enterprise, he would surely be paying taxes at the full rate.

    As to the NPR story, it sounds as if there need to be some loopholes closed here.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    If the pastors have broken the law, then that's that.

    For some things there are exemptions due to the separation of church and state, but fraud and tax evasion (taxes on some church income) isn't one of those.

    I'm glad the Senate is doing an investigation.

  • 1 decade ago

    They want to make sure that these churches are actually non-profit organizations and not ways for their pastors to make a profit off their members. This is for tax reasons.

    Edit - To Taelec - The salaries of the pastors is already taxable. However, I think that any business holdings that churches own should be taxable. Only the freewill offerings should be tax exempt. This is something I believed even when I was a Christian. My parents believed that too.

    To FORTY55_ - What major presidential candidate is a Muslim?

    .

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    A local pastor I know of was full time.The church paid his salary and he deducted social security and income tax from it.He was paid a fair salary for his duties and was honest about it.Preachers making far more money than him are far more able to pay taxes etc.If they dont it is wrong.I dont believe a church should have to pay taxes however because they are non profit.They just need to keep a tighter rein on their finances.If they dont it looks bad on everbody.As far as the kind of pastors mentioned in the question this is their personal life and they should be the ones to answer for it.Keep the church out of it.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    For a Church to be classed as tax-exempt, it must show that its funds are generated by free-will donation and that those funds are not used as profit.

    These massive, wealthy lifestyles are pure personal profit, and in many ways defy the teachings of the Bible, thus countering the claim that the posessors are doing Church work.

    As such, these people are abusing the few trusts the government shows the church, and are ruining it for everyone.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Has nothing to do with church v state, and everything to do with violating the U.S. Tax Code.

    The fact that they might take down some particularly offensive people I'm sure gives them some satisfaction, but if they want to be a charity they need to follow the rules of a charity.

  • 1 decade ago

    The gov. has the right to investigate anyone suspect of fraud. If the church is clean as a whistle, it has nothing to hide. In Texas, we've run several TV crooks out of town......problem is they just pop up somewhere else. Maybe it's time the feds. get involved. Has nothing to do with church and state but with criminal behavior.........fraud.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I never felt that they should have tax exemptions except for the actually running of the Church. Like no taxes on the land.. But all salaries and what not should be taxed.

  • 1 decade ago

    No. Its about the legitimacy of "non-profit" organizations. Corporations may only be considered non-profit if they do not sell stock, pay dividends, or enrich their directors. Obviously, folks like Benny Hinn and Rev. Dollar have violated that principle. Religion has nothing to do with it.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.