I’ll probably look this up a little later, but I’ll pose this question to the few people who actually read my blog.

So, we have these megachurches, which have their own little coffee shops, stores, food places and everything else inside. I wonder: do those shops, stores, and whatnot pay any taxes? After all, since they’re part of a church and churches aren’t taxed, it suggests to me that the shops and cafés in these godly mini-malls don’t pay sales tax, property tax, or the other taxes that businesses are subject to. Are taxes taken out of the paychecks of the employees of these megachurch-businesses?

And if, in fact, this is all tax-free, then is there anything stopping megachurches from expanding a little, setting up residences, and becoming their own little mostly-sovereign mini-states within the country? I’m not saying it would happen, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just wondering if it’s legally possible.

5 Responses to Megaquestion

  1. Alainadragon says:

    I’m fairly certain that all the whatnot inside megachurches are not subject to any taxes. So technically they could expand and do just that, become little states. But, and this I know from experience on a church council, the city will try very, very hard to keep a church from expanding too big, i.e. buying more property. And for the very reason that they can’t tax that property anymore. But if a megachurch did get more property and decided to do this, I think they could and no one could really do anything about it.

  2. Sonya says:

    What amazes me more is that these churches can grow so large that a mini-mall would fit inside them. I live in an urban area, and such megachurches simply do not exist. And yet, I am finding myself unsurprised that they do. Is it indicative of today’s culture, that in our demand for convenience, we’ve simply decided to one-stop-shop for everything? Before we know it, Walmart will have a chapel for those patrons who feel a need to pray to a deity besides the god of consumerism. This is beyond ridiculous, and rapidly approaching sad and pathetic. Incidentally, I recall a certain passage from the Bible in which Jesus trashed merchants for setting up shop in a temple. (P.S. Wandered over here through the Two Percent Company’s site)

  3. Akusai says:

    I don’t know about megachurches, but I have often asked the same thing about Wal-Mart Supercenters. These places are an MD and a mint away from self-sufficiency.But, honestly, would it be so bad if if megachurches became little ministates? They’d no longer be able to leech off the US government if they made their secession official, and they’d have much less power to push their agenda with the government. They’d become so insular and self-absorbed, in fact, that I’m willing to bet they just wouldn’t even care. And I’d support that.

  4. John says:

    akusai -I disagree. Imagine a bunch of little Vaticans scattered across the US. Each one claiming “charity work” as a reason to leech money from from US citizens, using that money to buy US politicians, sorry I mean fund US politicians’ campaigns, and…well, okay, it wouldn’t be any worse than it is now, but still.

  5. A few months ago I read a news article (that I’m failing to find) where a city was trying to extract taxes from a church. This megachurch was setting up a housing development for retirees, and was using the condo fees and whatnot to buy more property. Essentially, this was a tax-free corporation, and the town was trying to get its due.I think there’s no real worry about churches becoming mini-states. As they get too large, and cities have a significant financial reason to extract taxes, they will. That, and once they compete too much with regular businesses, those businesses will likely complain about unfair competition…

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