Tax laws are more complicated than the average person can readily understand; tossing into the mix various things tax-exempt organizations might or might not be allowed to do threatens to make the task of understanding superhuman in nature.In reality, however, the issue isn’t all that complicated and the restrictions on what churches and religious organizations can do aren’t difficult to adhere to. Tax Exemptions Are Not a Right The most fundamental thing to understand is that no group and no church is “owed” a tax exemption.

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In particular, they cannot give exemptions to a group merely because the group is religious, and they cannot take away exemptions for the same reason. Tax Exemptions Are Related to Public Policies If a tax-exempt group — religious or secular — promotes ideas which contradict important public policies (like desegregation), then the group’s tax-exempt status may not be granted or extended.

If tax exemptions are created for magazines or books or whatever, the exemptions must be available to all parties, not just religious and not just secular applicants. Tax exemptions are provided in exchange for groups’ providing services to the community; when the groups undermine important goals of the community, then the tax exemptions are no longer justified.

More: When Charities Aren't Charitable Court Cases: 4.

No Tax Exemptions for Commercial Activity Tax exemptions are almost entirely restricted to those affairs which are religious rather than commercial in nature.

On the other hand, money which a church receives from the sale of goods and services — even including goods like religious books and magazines — will normally have sales tax applied, though not income tax at the other end.

More: Commercial Tax Exemptions for Church Businesses Court Cases: 5.Employees Pay Income Taxes People paid by the church, whether ministers or janitors, normally have to pay income taxes on their earnings.Thus, there are numerous tax exemptions on property owned by churches and used for religious worship, but exemptions are normally denied on property used for commerce and business.The site of an actual church will be exempt, but the site of a church-owned shoe store will rarely, if ever, be exempt.Court Cases: The same is true for income from sales.Money a church receives from donations of members and from financial investments are normally treated as tax-exempt.