Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fair Tax Reform... You Tube Video... Religous Tax Exemption Issue... Holy Cow Issue... AP... DF... Separation of Church and State Issue...

["NY Clergy Ask Legislators to Support Fair Share"; as submitted by FairTaxReform on March 26, 2009;]

This video is posted with some inner conflict... for though it is great to see / hear some NY State Clergy speak out on behalf of tax reforms that would benefit (it appears) the poor... there are other members of the Clergy that don't appear to be too awfully concerned one way or the other... and some members of the clergy that make one wonder, as the song (by Three Non-Blonds) goes, "What's Up?"

Some churches are extremely "elegant" - to say the least - with some here in the City owning properties (with religious tax exemption status) over the 1 Million Dollar mark...

Should these churches (This would require legislative changes and such, to be sure) be taxed? Should these churches be taxed after they hit a certain monetary (often reflected in their property holdings) value?

Should the amount of people a church serves and how often and how "freely" minister to the community be a part of determining (along with the churches cumulative assets) whether a church (or other religious institution) is allowed full religious non-profit tax exemption, partial religious non-profit tax-exemption - or none?

There are certainly churches in the City of Kingston that are reaching out to the people, freely (or at very low cost) providing space for a lot of needed programs and otherwise staying involved in the community...

But there are also some churches in the City of Kingston that appear to be a bit exclusive... and there are some church properties - still on the City's religious tax exemption rolls (and the taxpayer's backs) that are actually sitting (some of this is big $$$$$ folks...) empty.

Which is an issue, along with the "good works" of some religious bodies (Thank you.) --- that I believe deserves a little "look see" around here...

What got me going on this sort of topic again?

Not the video, per se... Although it does strike me as ironic that the folks portrayed are speaking in beautiful "empty" churches about how "everyone" needs to chip in - in regard to taxes - during this economic crisis...

Instead, I was more provoked by a small article in Friday's "Daily Freeman" (DF) - titled, "New York Minister's Pay Package Causes Stir" (Associated Press; DF; 4/24/09; P. B5)


"NEW YORK... The chairman of Manhattan's Riverside Church Council is defending the incoming senior minister's $600,000-plus salary package. Billy Jones says the Rev. Brad Braxton's pay package is comparable to those at similar-size congregations... It includes a $250,000 annual salary and $11,500 living allowance. It also covers housekeeping, entertainment, travel and personal development. And there's an annual payment into a fund for home purchase..."

Say "what?"

I don't expect ministers and such to live in hovels - but isn't the above a little beyond the beyond????? With the probable (although not absolute) factor of receiving religious tax-exempt status (in regard to income, housing, other?) as well...

Which leads me around to another topic I used to address more often... That being the necessity of (and, in many cases, the continued violation of) "separation of church and state."


Because this reveals that in at least some instances, religious folks that also engage in politics are quite likely (this is not an absolute) to have a serious TAX advantage over the regular politically minded guy or gal... who is more apt, in these cases, to have trouble (of course, other factors come into this, as well, like an already captive audience...) raising campaign funds - and/or to have their reputations smeared because they (trying to feed their family and campaign / run for office....) fell behind on their taxes at some point during their lifetime...

Fair is fair - and I think all of this deserves some serious scrutiny.

What do you think?

Peace, Love, Equality and Humane Justice,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes Yes Yes!!! I'm with you on this one. The Churches as well as the rest of us should pay our Fair Share of Taxes to support our community...smitty