September 22nd 2011
By MarieAlena Castle
[Letter to Minneapolis Star Tribune]
I am all for shared sacrifice if we get rid of the freeloaders. I will gladly pay more taxes if they do not include making up for revenue lost by unjustified property tax exemptions for nonprofit organizations, both secular and religious, from Planned Parenthood to Catholic Charities. Although some provide needed social services, most if not all do it under government contract, making them essentially businesses. Some churches provide no significant social services at all. Profit making businesses also provide goods and services under government contract, and they pay property taxes. Nonprofits that lease their property actually do pay property taxes, since the tax liability is included in the cost. Multi-million-dollar mega-churches with high-living clergy hardly need a tax exemption handout.
Do nonprofits do some good? Yes, but so do many businesses, as anyone facing a car breakdown or plumbing disaster knows. Do they teach values (especially said of churches)? Yes, but so do families – the primary source of moral guidance – and they are not tax exempt.
Tax-exempt property in Minnesota is valued at $84 billion. Tax it all (except government buildings, of course.) Nonprofits with income primarily from donations will be reimbursed for their property taxes by donors who feel their work is worthwhile. If it is not worth donor assistance, it is not worth a tax exemption either.
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