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Organised religions and NGO's should be taxed too.

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Bushranger, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. #1
    Religions and non-profit-organisations (NPO) as we all know are tax havens where you can earn as much as you like and pay nothing whatsoever in tax. The church brings in billions of dollars every year, much of which is spent on bettering the congregation but much is also spent on lobbying the governments to make changes or provide funding for church-worthy causes. IMHO many are using them simply to avoid paying tax.

    As a somewhat entreprenaur for over 30 years I have always known if I wanted to make real money simply start my own religion or NPO. Others must also know this and many have actually done that. Sure, like them I believe in God and I believe I am doing what God wants me to do but why should that absolve me from paying my taxes?

    I'm one of those that are happy to pay tax on money I earn as I believe most of the money I pay goes towards the betterment of my country as a whole. As my business grows I am placed in the position where I can easily minimise my own tax if I wanted. I know I can start my own charity, church or non-profit organisation to raise funds towards a particular cause but my enjoyment of society stops me doing such.

    I can start an organisation called 'save the koala' and actively seek funding from even government grants and garner private sympathies as well as their funds. However I raise money for my NPO doesn't matter, all I know is I don't have to pay tax on it.

    I can then use any money I raise to fund my own business, pay my business money to make websites for my NPO or whatever I want to do. In other words I can legally fund my own business using funds from my NPO. The harder I work at my NPO the more free money I can use to support my business. Sure, any money going through my business will be taxed through my business but any money I spend through my NPO is not. I could simply say the coffee for the staff room is for use of NPO staff in order to avoid paying my tax on that. I'm sure I could find hundreds of ways to transfer money I would normally spend from my business to money spent through my NPO. It's a tax cheaters heaven and many out there are doing it.

    How are these so called think tanks funded? Exactly the same way. Big business using their own NPOs to lobby government and change laws, all using money that would normally be taxes.

    Conclusion. ALL NPOs including religious NPOs need to be taxed, the same as any person or business is taxed.
     
    Bushranger, Feb 2, 2012 IP
  2. sunfyre7896

    sunfyre7896 Peon

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    #2
    Non-profits have to register and apply with the IRS (mind you a branch of the government that is strict on getting their money like a loan shark) to get their 501(c)3 status. I, in fact, just received my non-profit status from the IRS. In no way can you make as much as you want nor keep as much as you want. You can only keep a "reasonable and fair amount" that is based on what you spend on overhead plus some for salaries. In modern non-profit tax law, there's not a set amount, but I guarantee you if you even tried to keep 50% of your profits, you'd be under immediate scrutiny and would eventually, if not fixed to donate more, lose your non-profit status with the IRS.

    You speak, out of ignorance, as if all non-profits are keeping all or almost all of their money. That's not the case anymore. They monitor everything that you do and you have to annually file your form 990 that is open for the public to see. Certain older non-profits try to keep almost all, but newer non-profits, ones that have been founded in the last 25 years, have to adhere to strict policy on the amount they have to donate and how much is kept for everything else.

    Your thinly veiled attacks on non-profits are unfounded. You should realize that having a for profit company nets you way more, even after taxes, than a non-profit would ever hope to make. Maybe in Australia that is how it is, but here in the U.S., non-profits donate most of their money out to charitable contributions.

    As to religion, you should just attack that directly, instead of bashing it through their donations.
     
    sunfyre7896, Feb 15, 2012 IP
  3. Bushranger

    Bushranger Well-Known Member

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    #3
    If I go out and gather 1 million dollars in donations or grants money I can spend the whole million on a website for my "charity". Seeing my business makes websites I can hire myself to do the job and keep all of the money myself. According to the paperwork I can show we got a million and we spent a million without hiding a thing.

    I speak out of informed commentary here. If I start a thread that 'usually' means I know something about the scenario. In this case I do. Whilst I agree there are hoops you need to jump through to get the money when it comes to big grants money that is nothing.

    Yes, but when business slows down I can earn on the upswing by applying for a grant under the auspices of my NPO, then use that grant money to make up for the shortfall making staff do the stuff to fulfill grant conditions. My argument here is about how NPOs are being used by 'normal' people to get around paying taxes. Who said 'if a system can be gamed it will be gamed'. They were right.

    Think tanks are amongst the worst offenders imho, feathering their own nest using money they should have instead paid in taxes. These places are often funded with money so corporate's can avoid paying tax whilst the NPO sets about lobbying to pay even less. They're using our money to lobby against us. Though the church seems to be the leader in directing funds to sway parliamentarians to their way of thinking, they are not alone, imho they should not be left out of the equation.

    Now that so-called 'normal' people are using them to create/build their private business, as I believe, an easy way to avoid paying tax. If you're doing that (looking at your sig links it's possible) then I can see why you're defending the practice. If not, then if you believe everyone should pay tax you're being ripped off too.

    With the government itself being the biggest NPO, can you imagine how much in taxes they themselves avoid?

    Saying that, I do believe 'some' NPOs' are very worthy organisations but I think they are few and far between. Most are simply garnering from the system.
     
    Bushranger, Feb 15, 2012 IP
  4. ApocalypseXL

    ApocalypseXL Notable Member

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    #4
    Let's tax the Red Cross , WWF , Sea Shepherd ,disaster relief agencies , the Food Bank , soup kitchens and so on they are all fitly rich and deserved to be taxed for their profitable activities . Let's also tax Buddhists monasteries and small churches they are clearly hoarding tons of cash .

    Bushranger have ever considered that you might be stupid ?
     
    ApocalypseXL, Feb 15, 2012 IP
  5. Bushranger

    Bushranger Well-Known Member

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    #5
    Thank-you for your insightful addition to this thread. Oh wait...you haven't posted it yet.
     
    Bushranger, Feb 16, 2012 IP
  6. sunfyre7896

    sunfyre7896 Peon

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    #6
    I don't know about laws where you are. However, in the U.S., you not only have to show your spending, but you have to donate a fair and reasonable amount and talking with attorneys here and other non-profits, that number falls somewhere around 80% that you have to donate. It's not set in stone like I have stated, but all of the attorneys urged me not to keep more than 20% for total overhead and salaries, lest I lose my non-profit status with our I.R.S. So in your scenario, if I were to collect $1M in donations, I would have to donate at least $800k. Now, depending on how much I get each year, that number could increase to donating 90%. The reason being is that I would have to justify all overhead as well as my salary. If that salary is not considered fair compared to others within the sector, then I would have to donate more. For example, if I took in $2M in donations, 80% would be $1.6M. That leaves $400k. Out of that, say my overhead is $100k (Just saying to make it easier, it would be less), then salaries would be $300k. If we only had myself and 3 others below me, I cannot justify paying them $40k each and me keeping $180k if others in my position only make $100k.

    Just an example, but as you can see, I would have to donate roughly 80% to charity, but that number increases the more that I take in. Basically, after overhead, I can only make a comparable salary to another in my position. For many charities that take in a fair amount of donations every year, that number usually doesn't fall above $200k or so. While that seems high, when comparing that to a for profit business of the same size, both in employees and fiscally, that number is far, far below the CEO's making in the millions or at least high six figures. So, you cannot just keep most of the money here in the U.S.

    The only time I could see that is if someone were taking cash on a small scale like at a school, but as for the amount of money you were stating, that is watched with incredible scrutiny by our I.R.S. and I can tell you that if you made a million off of a million, that you'd be subject to fines, losing your status, and possible jail time for fraud. The I.R.S. just doesn't play around here.
     
    sunfyre7896, Feb 16, 2012 IP
  7. Obamanation

    Obamanation Well-Known Member

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    #7
    Bushranger, I'm having a hard time understanding what you have your panties in a twist about here. The government provides tax breaks to people who donate to charitable organizations, political causes, and churches, so long as said organization has a current and valid status with the state. Those organizations use that money to execute their charter and, as non-profits, I believe they incur no tax liability for funds retained by the organization past the end of the tax year. Any funds paid from those organizations to their employees are taxed at a normal rate.

    What exactly do you take issue with?

    1. The tax write off offered to contributors to community organizations like Acorn?
    2. Acorn's ability to carry donations between tax years without paying taxes?
    3. Direct federal grant money paid into political organizations like Acorn?
    4. The idea that some entities are taxed at different rates than others?
    5. The idea of lower taxes?


    I happen to agree. I think everyone should be taxed at the same rate, whether you earn 1$ or $100 million. I could give a crap about your donations to finding a cure for AIDS, Breast Cancer, or any other charity, religion, or political organization. Why is the state sponsoring any of this crap? Lets get the special interests out of the tax code and settle on a flat simple tax rate. I'm just surprised to see you championing this cause.
     
    Obamanation, Feb 16, 2012 IP
  8. ApocalypseXL

    ApocalypseXL Notable Member

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    #8
    The explanation is simple Obamanation . Bushy has his underwear twisted in atheist rage , given the fact that all churches are NGOs he thought that if he the government woul tax them some would die off . Additionally the less money priests have the less "minds they can twist" .

    He failed to remember that there are financial control institutions that look for just that kind of thing . He does get bonus points for claiming he's got 30+ of entrepreneurship (making ~50 when he's not even 30) and for posting "I believe in God" in an effort to sound more convincing .

    Just out of curiosity Bush haven't you heard in "30+ years of entrepreneurship" of something called accounting ? Or something called fraud ?
     
    ApocalypseXL, Feb 16, 2012 IP
  9. Bushranger

    Bushranger Well-Known Member

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    #9
    Let's go for 1, 2 & 3. My knickers are twisted over the con of non-profit organisations. NPOs such as Heartland Institute that are set up by polluters, giving them tax-free status whilst pushing old ideas that are destroying our planet.

    Exxon decides to throw tax-free money at that NPO in order to further its agenda while actively avoiding paying tax. The NPO then actively pursues their agenda spinning truth on important stuff that is affecting the planet badly. I don't understand why they deserve a tax-break to do that. We are in fact subsidising them to destroy our planet. It's crazy imho.
     
    Bushranger, Feb 16, 2012 IP
  10. moonwalker

    moonwalker Active Member

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    #10
    Doctors without borders should is an NGO that I don't think should be taxed.
     
    moonwalker, Feb 22, 2012 IP
  11. Obamanation

    Obamanation Well-Known Member

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    #11
    So only NGOs that support your particular political agenda. Thank you for saying clearly what Bushranger was struggling with.
     
    Obamanation, Feb 22, 2012 IP
  12. moonwalker

    moonwalker Active Member

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    #12
    Doctors without borders does not have a political agenda. That's why I'm saying they shouldn't be taxed.
     
    moonwalker, Feb 22, 2012 IP
  13. Obamanation

    Obamanation Well-Known Member

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    #13
    How about Union dues, which are used nearly exclusively to push a political agenda. Tax them, or not?
     
    Obamanation, Feb 22, 2012 IP
  14. sunfyre7896

    sunfyre7896 Peon

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    #14
    Some people are against non-profits and want to blanket them all in together and state it as a fact, while others see certain ones as bad and most as good in their purpose. Sounds like some other biases in the past, cultures, members of a political party, etc.
     
    sunfyre7896, Feb 22, 2012 IP
  15. Obamanation

    Obamanation Well-Known Member

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    #15
    So will you lend to Afghanistan again, or have you learned your lesson? The guy probably used your money to buy nails to line his c4 filled bomb vest. :D

    II've heard good things about microlending, but I cant help but wonder what the vig is. There are bad apples and profiteers in any completely unregulated business, and usually more in businesses powered by volunteers or donations. In central america, people are happy to pay upwards of 3% per month, interest only on cash when the banks wont lend at 8% per year. With that big of a margin, there is nearly ALWAYS somebody with his hand in the pot, and usually, whole groups of somebodies working together.

    One guy I know runs a very legitimate "Save the Rainforest" business in Costa Rica. He gets people in the US to buy a small piece of the Rainforest. At a buck a square meter, the investment size does not have to be large. He hands his customers an areal photo of their piece of deforested land that will be replanted, as well as a few shares of stock in the corporation that bought the mother farm, and a very real and binding contract granting them exclusive ownership of that particular piece of land, though 99% of the time the piece is too small and too isolated to ever be segregated. Of course he makes a reasonable management fee for setting up the relationship, a transaction fee for the movement of the money, as well as a real estate commission in excess of 10% on the purchase of the farm, which usually means that 30-50% of the up front cash goes directly to him. The land is then "Reforested" with Costa Rican government subsidies(Curiously originated from the US) that pay USD$3000 a hectare per year back to the owner of the land, his corporation.

    The real kicker is, the land is reforested with Teak, which grows to sellable maturity in 15 years. Every 15 years, his "Reforested" land is harvested for it's teak, yielding millions of dollars in profits, and reforested once again. for the next 15 year cycle. Its money up front from his buyers. Its money from the goverment. Its money from the land. And the best part.... EVERYONE is happy! Yay!

    It always makes me think when someone asks me to send money to their enterprise in the third world, though if they cut you in, it is often highly profitable.
     
    Obamanation, Feb 23, 2012 IP
  16. boblord666

    boblord666 Member

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    #16
    Yes, will be helping people in Afghanistan in particular - Loan was 90% repaid - beats the hell out of US house buyers.

    Oz government stopped the investing in tree plantations years ago - a total farce that cost a lot of people a lot of money. Don't let that stop you investing though.
     
    boblord666, Feb 23, 2012 IP
  17. Obamanation

    Obamanation Well-Known Member

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    #17
    Your lending profile doesn't match your rhetoric.

    Your government was investing in tree plantations? Ugghhh! I was talking about individual investors. Tree huggers eat those types of investments up to this very day, and they realy feel they are making a difference. I always get a chuckle when the Obama admin and lefties praise the Brazilian government for their green initiatives, especially biodiesel. In the meantime, the Brazlians are clear cutting old growth rainforests to make way for date palm plantations to create their biodiesel. It is the least eco friendly business on the planet sold in the name of protecting the environment.

    FYI, Costa Rica's government subsidy for "reforestation" was a byproduct of US funds to the Costa Rican government for discontinuing the clear cutting process they were engaged in at the time. To the best of my knowledge, the US government has never directly invested in reforestation abroad. That would be as scandalous as selling weapons to Iran to fund a covert war in El Salvador.

    Not my cup of tea, though I was thinking it might be yours.
     
    Obamanation, Feb 23, 2012 IP
  18. boblord666

    boblord666 Member

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    #18
    It's none of your business, but I lend when I have money to spare and whoever is seeking a loan at that time benefits. Loans change every minute of every day but, as I said, I have no objection to lending to Afghanis when a loan there is open. Although I do refuse to loan to US citizens. Not sure whether the US office is still open as there was a huge outcry from Kiva citizens when loans to the US became available. Now are you going to join me and make a small difference in the world or not?

    Oh you big silly billy. The government put a stop to the tax break of tree plantation investments for individuals. As you say "Ugghhh" - if it's a bad investment for a government then it's a bad investment for an individual.
     
    boblord666, Feb 23, 2012 IP
  19. Obamanation

    Obamanation Well-Known Member

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    #19
    Yah, but you just claimed to be focusing on Afghanis, when the reality is, the one Afghani you lent to burned you, and you have not lent to one since. Just trying to get you to be honest.

    There was? Gee, can you point me to the forum or blog link showing general outcry? I looked and couldn't find it. Why exactly do you hate Americans so much anyway? Australian women seem to love us ;). Or perhaps that is the reason....

    Any investment made by a government that does not serve the purpose of protecting the security and wellbeing of the nation's people is a bad investment for the government. That does not necessarily mean the same investment wouldn't be a great investment for an individual. For instance, George W. Bush used US taxpayer money to single handedly turn the tide in the war on HIV in Africa. He is widely loved there, and it was a good thing to spend money on, just not US taxpayer dollars.

    I make a difference by providing common sense to those who lack it. Giving money to an organization like Kiva without first understanding their business model in the name of "making a difference" would be a fine example of what I consider a lack of common sense. So let me help you out by providing what is lacking.


    As Kiva offers none of the details of it's business model online, I had to dig around the internet for a few minutes to scratch the surface on the flow of Kiva money. As it turns out, the average interest rate on a Kiva loan issued in the US is 23%. That puts it on a par with loan sharks and payday loan companies, organizations generally associated with keeping poor people poor. I imagine Kiva's rates would be higher than 23%, except the US has usury laws in place to prevent such gouging, though I'm sure they manage to well exceed that rate after taking fees into consideration. Once they get outside the US, I have no doubt that interest rates often exceed 100% per year. Stunning when you consider their average default rate is 2.85%. The shame of having your picture on the internet site as a deadbeat probably helps out quite a bit on that front.

    It also appears that Kiva does none of the lending itself, but instead relies on a network of for-profit "Microfund partners". From all appearances, Kiva puts a charitable face on the microlending business, raises millions of dollars from it's website, gets suckers to lend money for free as well as eat any losses incurred by loan defaults, and lets their for profit partners pocket all the revenue generated by their obscenely high interest rates. All of this, mind you, done on the backs of poor people.

    So, in answer to your question, NO I am not interested in becoming a financial backer to loan sharks who profiteer from poor people. If I am going to do something like that, I will have to be cut into the profits. Perhaps I should consider becoming a "Kiva Microfund partner" in central America.

    Finally, consider this. I just took 10 minutes out of my busy day to help you educate yourself. I did this free of charge, and if you knew my hourly billing rate, you would appreciate how charitable of a person I am. No thanks required.
     
    Obamanation, Feb 23, 2012 IP
  20. sunfyre7896

    sunfyre7896 Peon

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    #20
    That seems to be the new trend. Aussie men HATE Americans. Every one I have met or talked to or any that may friends have met have stated that that was kind of the consensus down in sunny Australia and have a general disdain towards Americans. We're essentially the same people. We were British outcasts and Aussies were outcasts/prisoners. Somewhere in the chain of development and history, there was a divergence. I'd hate to think that it was just because of everything post 9/11 that somehow we're demonized when we're supposed to be allies.
     
    sunfyre7896, Feb 23, 2012 IP