Monday, February 6, 2012

Obama and Catholics Yet Again


But not all employees of Catholic institutions are Catholics. Why should their employers impose their religious beliefs on them and deny coverage for birth control and other medical care? As long as those Catholic institutions are getting taxpayer money, they should follow secular rules. That’s the Obama administration’s argument, and it makes sense.

This shows yet again why the Catholic Church should voluntarily give up its charitable tax status. "He who pays the piper calls the tune."

If we were free from the state via the tax loophole, then Obama and his likes would have little power over the Church.

h/t Where the Rubber Hits the Road


Melissa said...

Julie, Having charitable tax status is not the same as receiving money from the government. There seems to be a sense that churches are robbing money to which the government would otherwise be entitled. But that's not the case. Rather, Churches are given tax-exempt status because they traditionally perform many of the social services that would otherwise befall the government.

If the churches were to give up tax-exempt status, that would be a horrible blow to church-state separation, as it would be acknowledging that the state can meddle in church affairs.

Julie Culshaw said...

When Georges Buscemi was here to speak (he is the head of Campaign Life in Quebec) he challenged the clergy present to do just this. And he explained how it actually works.
e.g. If I give $100 to a church, I get a receipt and then this is entered into my tax return. I don't get to claim the entire $100 off my income, but I do claim a percentage of it.
So I get taxes back, in proportion to the amount I gave away.
In reality, then I gave $80 to the church, receive $20 back from the govt. But the church receives the entire $100. So who made up the $20?
The govt therefore is giving this money to churches indirectly through our tax exemptions. Therefore the churches are beholden to the govt for that money they receive from us (part of which actually comes from the govt).

Melissa said...

You are presupposing that the government has a right to the tax-exempt money that it collects.

The government is not giving the church that $20. You are giving the entire $100.

The government isn't giving you money when you get your tax refund. They are merely returning money that they borrowed from you because you overpaid your taxes. The money is yours, was yours, and remains yours to do as you like with.

Julie Culshaw said...

But you only get that return because the original amount was given to an organization that has the charitable status.
when you give $100, you are in the end, giving $80 because you get $20 back.
The church does get the entire $100, so where does the $20 come from?
Only because of the ruling of the govt on this kind of giving.

As well, churches are exempt taxes on their properties, which is a huge factor in how they have to submit to the state.

I have heard priests say that they cannot speak on certain subjects and the reason for their hesitancy is fear of losing tax exempt status.

Sooner or later, we are going to lose it. I think it would be better if we lost it sooner, so that the church could be braver on the issues that it needs to be.

When people want to only give to organizations that can give a receipt, I think we should suggest to them that, instead of giving $100, they just give $80 and forego the receipt. I don't think that our giving should depend upon this tax exemption.

Doug Indeap said...

Our laws have long made health plans available to most people in the form of "employee benefits" received through their employers. Apart from political expediency, employers really did not need to be involved at all, but since the law put them in that position, they effectively have had a say in what types of plans are available to their employees. Some employers have even taken advantage of their position to tailor the plans they make available to fit their own religious views, rather than leave such matters to their employees.

Now that the government has prescribed that health plans provide some services that do not conform to the religious views of some employers, those employers have complained they face a moral bind--that is they are forced to provide plans that include services they find objectionable. This moral bind could have been avoided if the law had not required employers to provide such qualifying health plans and, instead, simply made such plans readily and directly available to everyone, funding them, at least partly, through taxes or assessments paid by employers relieved of the burden of providing health plans. Had the government done that, employers would not face a moral bind and health plans would be widely available as the law intends.

Oh. Wait. Does the current health law afford employers that very option? Why, yes, it does. Eureka! No moral bind! (And the assessments, by the way, are hardly prohibitive as some commentators suppose. Some employers, indeed, are considering that option on the basis that it is economically advantageous.)

Problem solved--except perhaps for an employer who really desires not just to avoid a moral bind, but rather wants to retain control of his employees' health plans, limit their choices to conform to the employer's religious beliefs, and avoid paying the assessments that otherwise would be owed. The employer could not do that--unless he obtained an exemption from the law.

Oh. Wait. Aren't some employers clamoring for just such an exemption, so they can do just that? Why, yes, they are.