501C3 · Church · Tax Exempt

Taxes & Churches – Avoiding Taxes

taxes-150x150Where did the right for churches to avoid paying taxes come from? I mean, did this right to avoid paying taxes come out of Bible teaching?

Is this “right” that churches exercise grounded in the Bible?

Consider the third topic of discussion.

3. Churches Existing Only to Avoid Taxation


The third time this struggle came up for me is a conversation I had with one of my daughters friends a while back.

He was telling me about some house churches in a town north-west of where I live that were avoiding the paying of property taxes by claiming their home as a church and hiding behind the 501 (c) 3 status.  I don’t know where this young man is in relation to the Lord, but his take on the situation was bang on.  He said that it was obvious, in some of the churches, that the only reason the “church” existed was to avoid the paying of property taxes.  (Is the common refrain of offence ringing in anyone’s ears?)  My goodness.  

Summary Arguments

I can imagine some of the arguments that might arise if this teaching were to be taken seriously by the modern church.

  1. If churches had to pay taxes, missions would suffer.
    • But why would missions need to suffer?  Why not cut church staff, and allow the rank and file of the church to step up.  I think if you have been reading my junk for a while, you realize that I also struggle with what I think of as “professional christianity”.  We hire those to serve us, when we as believers need to serve one another.  It is a crippling disease within the western church.  But this is not the purpose of this blog.
  2. If churches had to pay taxes, there would be less service to the believer, less perks within the church.
    • No free study manuals, coffee, padded pews, etc.  Is that what the body of Christ is all about for you?
  3. If churches had to pay taxes, the growth of the modern church system would come to a grinding halt.
    • Large mega churches would definitely become rarer, since their tax burden might restrict future building plans.  Some existing churches would fall into default because they aree leveraged beyond their means.  
    • When this argument comes up, I often think of the struggling Chinese church prior to and during Mao’s revolution.  All modern western missionaries were pulled from China during the revolution and the western church bemoaned the situation, thinking that without the american missionary leading the church, the church would fall apart and disappear. Have you considered the last 100 years of the Chinese church?  If the rate of Christian growth continues, the nation of China will become a predominantly Christian nation within a generation or less.  (Very similar to the events of the early church in the Roman nation!) And this type of growth without any fancy buildings, professionally trained staff, or weekly entertainment get togethers.  



What think ye? Is there something I am missing? 

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2 thoughts on “Taxes & Churches – Avoiding Taxes

  1. The strength of a church lies not in how well educated its pastors are or how many missionaries we send out, but how active it’s lay members are. To often I see the attitude that we can just pay someone else to do the work God commissioned us to do. We are all called to let out lights shine forth, not just the pastors.

    If our focus was right and we were all doing our part, paying church taxes wouldn’t hurt the church. We must always remember that the church was established to be a benefit to the world.


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