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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Churches should be paying Taxes, Hospitals which save lives do

Feature Lifestyle Churches should be paying Taxes, Hospitals which save lives do

By Claire Mom

“When I retire from work, I would love to open a church’’, Uncle Michael (not real name) began. I was dumbfounded. On a good day Uncle Michael could not recite Psalm 23 to save his life so I wondered where the inspiration for his retirement plan came from. ‘’Why?’’ I asked. ‘’Why not? There’s a lot of money to be made besides I don’t have to worry about the government sinking my business in the name of taxes, it’s really a win-win’’, he shrugged.

Uncle Michael’s pension plan wouldn’t be the first nor the last of its kind. Marketplaces masquerading as churches have existed from the days of its founder. Sadly, if the Lord Jesus had known cleansing the temple of cattle rearers and money merchants was a futile step in a never ending game of hurdles and steeplechase, He would have stayed home that day.

Frankly, with global debt reaching a record-breaking $226 trillion, the urgency of establishing a fool proof, time tested and highly successful business model is understood. As such, establishing these high generating revenue non-profit organisations that require little capital and low maintenance costs is very understandable. Asides favourable cost structures, access to staggering weekly revenue inflow stemming from offerings, vow redemptions and other kingdom investments (depending on the lyrical prowess of the preacher) remains one of the stimulators for this venture.

However, the driving force behind the success of these religious cartels is its exemption from tax payments. Or for some people, divine favour from God. By definition, churches are non profit organisations and are not taxed by their net income for a rather obvious reason; they do not have net income. I find this rather ironic given that in 2016, the faith economy in the US had a net worth of a staggering $1.2tn, worth more than Apple and Google combined and more than the amount needed to solve world hunger.

In Africa where religion is opium to the masses, churches are homes to some of the wealthiest owners of schools, chains of businesses, fleets of cars and planes who double as pastors on Sundays. Now, I am not against ministers enjoying the fruit of their labour, afterall ‘’the blessing of the lord maketh rich and addeth no sorrow’’, what tugs at my imagination is the amount of profit raked in by a supposed non profit organisation.

While I admit the church has been instrumental to the saving of souls from eternal damnation, providing moral guidance and occasional grand gestures of philanthropy, the question of what other contributions this organisation makes to the society is begging to be answered.

When exemptions are created for some organisations because of the sacred nature of their duties despite their overwhelming ability to contribute to economic growth, it is puzzling. Hospitals save lives yet they pay taxes so why can’t churches? Surely there must be some other contribution to society other than providing a hot link to God.

Claire Mom is a Nigerian journalist who is passionate about social reforms in Africa. She is known for her strong unconventional opinions that cut across social development, health and faith.
Twitter: speakclairely_
Email: [email protected]

23 COMMENTS

  1. Of course there are sincere pastors which mean well. But there are so many so called churches that are led by crooks and criminals, especially in Zambia. They always say they look after the poor, but they gotta have a shiny BMW or Mercedes Benz first!

  2. This is a sweeping statement with some truth.
    Yes there are big churches which perhaps should pay tax BUT the majority of churches be and Pastors are poor.
    The minority prosperity churches are not the reflection of the Church in the world let alone Africa.

  3. In as much I am in support of Churches in Zambia to be paying tax. Unfortunately, there is no law to implement this, unless they legislate for it which might be abit difficult because of its applicability, reason being church is a non profit making organisation.

    Church being a non profit making organisation operates on income and expenses, surplus and deficit.It will be very much difficult to net them in the tax system.

  4. Just pray from home, most of these structures called churches are just led by conmen, I pray on my own and I am very comfortable than going to be preached to by these conmen, fellowshipping is very important but not in current times. We read daily in the news the rampage and havoc these called pastors are doing every day. Imagine we even had pastors calling themselves Christians for Lungu, and not for Christ. And that chi idle Religious Affairs Ministry was just watching

  5. Wanitwa mos. The JWST that is now in place will soon be helping us settle some of these questions definitively. Just wait.

  6. This is written by an evil upnd cadre who, just like his president, doesn’t believe in zambia being a Christian nation. How can you tax God’s house. F00Iish

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  7. Leave the church out of imalyashi fyamungulu. Don’t dare tax the church and poke your filthy noses out’a God’s business. What does it matter to you if a pastor is a cheat? Let God deal with them. But don’t you dare go that route. Don’t you ZRA the Church. Just deal with your tuma SME that never grow and multinational who rip your assets for free.

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  8. A few things, both good and bad. I’ll start with the good:

    1) Without tax exemption, it would be a little harder to use a church as a money-making scheme. With any luck, it reduces the size of corporate mega-churches that are little more than entertainment centers.

    2) All paid work in a church is overhead. With the loss of tax exemption, that overhead looks bigger. With any luck it would push more churches toward 100% volunteer lay ministry rather than a professional paid ministry. (I despise the concept of paid ministry, if you couldn’t tell).

    3) Increased tax revenue.

    Now for the bad:

    1) Tax exemption is a way to curb political activism in religious institutions. Can you imagine them actively campaigning from the pulpit for everything? Official church endorsement of…

  9. Tax the individual who claims to have 78 houses. It’s only fair to exempt on two properties and tax the rest. On the other your taxes go to pay for lavish lifestyles for these politicians.

  10. It starts like this. Those countries that took this direction have eventually lost freedom of worship. The Government controls the church. Let’s be careful of such articles written by people from other countries who have their unknown agenda. Next we will be told families should be taxed.
    We acknowledged abuses by some so called men of God. I suggest there should me mechanisms to address such abuse. Blanket pronouncements like this are very dangerous. This article even refers to Christianity as opium. This is serious insult. It should be repudiated by all well meaning Christians .

  11. I have written my comments where I have argued against taxing the church, I have mentioned how the writer of the article clearly appears to be anti church among others, calling the church opium. I am waiting to see it LT

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  12. Most Churches are money making schemes that pray on the vaunrable………

    Only to find Africans are the most converted peoples……….

    Do a kigame and limit the buggers…….

  13. The writer of this article is not unbiased. He is clearly anti church. He knows where he wants to take this. If we start off on his suggestion we will find ourselves down the years with Government run institutions called church. There are examples of countries which have gone this way. I say , wholesale ideas such church taxation are dangerous and should not be given a foothold. Instead there should be mechanism to deal with so called men of God who abuse their positions.

  14. CURSED BE ANY GOVERNMENT ON EARTH THAT TAXES A CHURCH.

    I 50 MEMBERS WHO WORK IN MY CHURCH, AMONG THE 50 MEMBERS 25 ARE MINERS, 15 ARE TEACHERS AND 10 ARE POLICE MEN AND WOMEN.

    ALL THESE MY MEMBERS BEFORE THEY GIVE A 10% OR TITHE GOVERNMENT ALREADY DO TAX THEM SOME ON 35%, 30% AND 25% RESPECTIVELY ON THEIR GROSS EARNINGS THEREAFTER THEY GIVE TO THE THEIR 10% CONTRIBUTIONS.

    SO WHY SHOULD ANY NORMAL FUNCTIONING GOVERNMENT EVEN SUGGEST TO TAX THE CHURCH TWICE AGAIN????

    IN FACT IN GOVERNMENT AND ITS REVENUE AUTHORITIES NEEDS TO EXEMPT OR LOWER THE TAX BAND RATE FOR SOME TITHE GIVERS.

    JUST BE CREATIVE AND FIND WAYS OF RAISING REVENUE NOT THROUGH THE TAXING THE CHURCH. THAT IS MADNESS.

    I ALSO support the gentleman who said the writer of this article sounds to be anti church.

  15. to the bet of my knowledge, most churches record all receipts including for tithes, gifts and pledges/donations ( issue receipts ) and expenses. That’s why they are able to produce audited annual financial reports. its on these reports that taxes could be charged/levied. ideally, tithes, gifts and pledges/donations give to churches do so from their taxed incomes. therefore taxing churches could result in double taxation, especially most churches live on donations.

  16. Even if they are tax exempt,the churches still need to file their annual returns and pay applicable taxes first.
    They can claim for tax refunds later

  17. The writer obviously has zero clue of how churches operate. The writer thinks running a church is a get rich quick scheme. I implore him/her to open a church and come up with those US figures that are being dished out. If you think convincing one person to pay tithe is easy, try it. you will confess

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