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Nashville Church Fights $425,000 Property Tax Bill

Discussion in 'News & Current Events' started by Thousand Hills, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. Thousand Hills

    Thousand Hills Active Member

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    Thought this was an interesting article.

    http://www.tennessean.com/article/20101121/NEWS01/11210372/Nashville-church-fights-425-000-tax-bill

    In related news, the other night on "Undercover Boss" they were profiling an executive with Subway, as part of the show he went and worked at a Subway inside of a church in Buffalo, NY.

    http://www.buffalonews.com/city/article258278.ece

    I don't attend a megachurch, and I'm not slamming either church, I haven't really formulated an opinion either way, but what are your views - are these examples of ministries or commercial enterprises?
     
  2. matt wade

    matt wade Well-Known Member

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    If you sell things or charge a membership fee you are operating a commercial business. Pay taxes like the rest of us.

    If these churches weren't turning into the moneychangers, they wouldn't have a problem.
     
  3. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus Well-Known Member

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    Sure is hard to tell the difference between some churches and for-profit institutions. I'm curious though what the difference between them and the local YMCA actually is. Since both have a gym and charge membership dues they should get the same treatment. I dunno but I think the church would win in a legal challenge. Of course that begs the question of whether or not they should legally challenge the ruling...

    Methinks they've done something to offend the local council.

    BTW: The church where I serve has both a bookstore and cafe where we serve light fare and coffee. Both are extremely popular and our ministry has seen healthy growth because of their proximity to our children's playground. Families come by, enjoy the air (in the summer), a romp on a great playground, free wifi, and have great conversations. It is a good thing imho.

    We need to be careful about our finances though...ours are an open book. But beware this kind of trend is getting ready to really start hitting churches. I'm pretty sure we're going to see the housing exemption go away in the next couple of years...or be challenged.
     
  4. matt wade

    matt wade Well-Known Member

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    If you charge for the cofee and "light fare" you should pay taxes for that portion of the building. If it's a ministry, give the stuff away for free.
     
  5. annsni

    annsni Administrator
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    We have a bookstore as well but we make very little profit (on purpose) and what we DO make goes right into the missions fund. We've never had a tax issue and we make sure we pay sales tax and everything. Not sure of the legal ramifications of it all though.

    As for the gym, I think they should have kept it open to the public as a ministry and then allowed "donations" instead. That would have kept them in a much better place, IMO.
     
  6. matt wade

    matt wade Well-Known Member

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    Our church has a clause in our by-laws that prohibits the church from doing any fundraisers or selling any type of mechandise. It's our belief that any ministry worth supporting should be supported by the members of the church.
     
  7. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    Serious question here - suppose your church sponsors a mother-daughter banquet* and they charge $6 per plate. Would that be acceptable?, or would you simply take an offering (or donation at the door)? If short would the church general fund make up the difference.

    If you did charge, would that be going against general Baptist polity as well as your church constitution?

    Salty

    *the issue of gender bias is not the issue here:smilewinkgrin:
     
  8. sag38

    sag38 Active Member

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    I've had to deal with older members in a church that I have served who thought it was wrong for a singing group to sell cd's or the youth group to sell t-shirts in hall way of the church. When asked "why?" they would always say, "it's money chaning." This is a misnomer that has it's basis in ignorance. At some point in the past they heard some jack leg preach against money changing and bought the lie hook line and sinker. Money chaning is not about buying or selling things in the church building. Money chaning in the context of Jesus' day was the exchanging of outside currency into temple currency. Even that wasn't wrong except that they were ripping people off concerning the exchange rate and preventing gentiles from worshipping in the outer courts. Sorry, but having a SubWay in the gymn is not money changing.
     
  9. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant Active Member

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    We always tell people that the singers are not selling their cd's. They are exchanging them for money!:smilewinkgrin:
     
  10. Robert Snow

    Robert Snow New Member

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    I agree it isn't "money changing," but it is operating a business and they should pay taxes!
     
  11. matt wade

    matt wade Well-Known Member

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    The only time we pay for something like this is if we are paying an outside vendor to cater something. Even in those cases, if there are people who can't afford it, the general fund will cover their meals.
     
  12. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus Well-Known Member

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    That's why you've got a state sales tax and local food taxes. :)
     
  13. matt wade

    matt wade Well-Known Member

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    If they are operating a business, why should they be exempt from any of the taxes? Other businesses have to pay the property tax, why not them?
     
  14. glfredrick

    glfredrick New Member

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    There is a growing movement among newly planted churches to fore-go the non-profit status, mostly to gain access to a meeting place in areas where land is at such a premium that no church will likely ever inhabit that area again. Though certainly not Christian, the attempted Muslim mosque near ground zero in New York is one such example. Who could afford to purchase land or a building for a church in that scenario?

    What some are now doing is buying an operating business, such as a hotel, using a number of floors for church activity, then running the hotel as a business to pay the expenses in the rest of the building. One in LA is doing well, and a new church is thriving in a place where there was no hope before.

    I've pitched several concepts to people who fund church starts and they are very interested. One is built around a strip mall. There are plenty of those available for sale across the land. Use an anchor building for the church and use the balance for multiple other purposes -- funnel profits back into mission work. Along the way, you could offer on-the-job training to people that don't know how to hold a job, support a community that likely needs the help, and start a church in a neighborhood where there likely isn't a viable worshiping congregation in place.

    Large churches often have a mini-mall inside their walls. There is often a coffee shop, book store, apparel store, etc. No problem with that at all. It is only the idea that we've never done it that way before that actually stands in the way. Churches that do those sort of things are not "peddling the gospel for money" the activities of the business located within the domain of the church in no way effects the worship or preaching of the word, and they can make it possible for a church to provide support ministries that they might not otherwise be able to afford. I say go for it! Why should our congregation members head out the door of our little unadorned churches, then go down the block and spend their money in some other establishment? The opportunities for ministry and fellowship abound, plus the other advantages that I spoke of above - job training, missions funding, etc.

    Edit...

    Oh, and just pay the taxes. The sales isn't religious in nature. There doesn't have to be one or the other. Do both!
     
  15. freeatlast

    freeatlast New Member

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    Salty I think that there is a big difference between an always money maker and a once in a while banquet that only covers the expenses.
     
  16. TCassidy

    TCassidy Administrator
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    Same for Christian school tuition?
     
  17. billwald

    billwald New Member

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    The SBC should have bought Chrysler, asked every employee to sign a paper saying he invited Jesus into his heart . . . .
     
  18. sag38

    sag38 Active Member

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    Wow Bill, you are so funny!!!
     
  19. matt wade

    matt wade Well-Known Member

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    Yep. Sounds about right.
     
  20. Aaron

    Aaron Member

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    Property taxes are oppressive and immoral. No one should pay property taxes.
     
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