It is difficult to know how much revenue churches make in Australia each year, but some estimates put it at $40 billion dollars, all tax free.
This means Australia is missing out on about $10 billion dollars a year in taxes.
Not just corporate tax, but also income tax, GST, payroll tax, council rates, land tax, state government taxes and local council taxes.
In addition religions have exemptions from anti-discriminations laws and other government statutes.
Churches are run as corporations, with investments in real estate, private hospitals, pre-schools, aged care facilities, insurance companies and private commercial enterprises.
Consider Sanitarium, which is owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. It makes almost a billion dollars in profit a year, yet pays no taxes.
Churches such as Hillsong and The Church of Scientology are clearly money-making ventures, and operate more as entertainment organisations than churches, but still pay no taxes.
The Catholic Church is probably the oldest and most successful business in the world, having lasted almost 2,000 years, whereas few businesses have a life cycle of more than 50 years.
Indeed, one would be hard pressed to find a single corporation anywhere in the world that is more than 200 years old.
In my university business studies, the Catholic Church was put forward as the most successful business model in history because of it’s flat management hierarchy (only five levels), and its ability to manipulate government laws for greater financial reward.
Gone are the days when the parish church was the centre of the community, and local priests lived frugal lifestyles. More and more people are moving away from the church, and it no longer serves the purpose it once did.
Instead, it now operates as a giant money-making venture on a global scale. It has become a multi-national corporation.
Millions of dollars are spent on defending employees from criminal charges to protect the church’s reputation. This is money that is donated by well-intended citizens for the benefit of the poor and needy. Take the cases before the Royal Commission into Child Abuse as a prime example.
And not only do they enjoy a tax free status, but the governments gives them hundreds of millions of dollars in handouts each year. Simultaneously, the same governments are cutting back on social security payments and other government programs which would help the marginalised and struggling.
This all needs to stop.
Australians need to write to their local members and the Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, and express their discontent about this.
The churches need to start paying taxes, and put an end to this farce.
More info: www.craighill.net