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Tax religion – “Yes” say 64% of the public

Media Release 29th April, 2016

“As a revenue-starved budget looms next Tuesday only 7% of Australians think religion should be tax-free — costing Treasurer Scott Morrison over $20 billion a year,” says Brian Morris, Director of Plain Reason.

“Even the Parliamentary Budget Office says there’d be an annual saving of $500 million simply on scrapping the fringe benefits tax for church employees — just one of a dozen loopholes enjoyed by all churches.

“With a public majority now ‘religion-neutral’ a full 64% of the community think churches should start paying tax — and their exemptions stem only from the historical anomaly of ‘advancing religion’, in a secular society.

“Religions run hundreds of private enterprises in schools, hospitals, aged care, and a variety of other private businesses — none of which pay income tax, GST, rates, car registration and a raft of other taxes.

“It’s a massive revenue short-fall that is now met the nation’s honest tax-payers who are mostly non-religious.

Mr Morris said “genuine charities” should indeed be tax-free, “but we have no idea of just how much of the vast revenue collected by churches is actually spent on bona fide services to people actually in need.”

Religious institutions are not legally required to keep financial records, unlike non-religious charities.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC) administers over 60,000 charities with almost 60% being secular organisations — household names like Oxfam and the Smith Family.

“There’s no transparency with religious organisations, and in a secular country where only 8% of the public go to regular church services, it’s high time this religious rort is finally stopped.

“There is absolutely no reason why federal politicians continue to live in fear of what they see as a powerful ‘Christian influence’ — it’s noisy vestige from the 1950s, with self-appointed and self-servicing lobby groups.”

Mr Morris said the April poll showed 64% of people disapproved of religions being tax-exempt — only 7% approved, and another 13% didn’t know.

“In this period of budgetary crisis the Turnbull government should think more seriously about the ‘secular’ public good — the revenue short-fall for public hospitals, public schools, and infrastructure — and start to collect tax from a plethora of private and very lucrative church businesses.

“In the 21st century it’s also unacceptable that religions are exempt from anti-discrimination laws and from workplace legislation that allows them to pay below-award wages and enforce unfair working conditions.”

Mr Morris said that all these factor are compounded as religions become more politicised — endorsing conservative candidates and launching aggressive and often dishonest media campaigns on social issues such as same-sex marriage and voluntary euthanasia.

“If religions wish to become politicised, under the guise of ‘religious freedom’, then they must be financially transparent, factually honest, and pay their fair share of tax — as do all hard-working Australian,” he said.

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  1. Miriam English


  2. Athena

    Cue the sound of violins…..

    But you’re discriminating against the Christians. Why is everyone picking on them? [/sarcasm]

  3. John Kelly

    A move long overdue. But it will cost more to attend Mass on Sundays.

  4. Jaquix

    Long, long overdue debate. I didnt know they didnt have to be financially transparent. Should NOT be exempt from anti discrimination legislation. Time for a good hard look at this sacred cow. No wonder they are building huge sprawling buildings everywhere. In New Zealand only genuine charitable works by religious groups get a tax exemption. Thanks for this article and Brian Morris – he has a book worrth reading called From Sacred to Secular. It wont be an election issue (this year) but I hope it becomes a movement with teeth, because the huge businesses called religions, with 8% of the population as customers, are being subsidised on a scale more than double what neg gearing costs us. These 2 itens alone are costing the govt (us) about 30 BILLION a year. That would wipe the deficit off in 2 yrs. And thats not starting on big business tax avoidance. Just imagine what a wonderful country we could have if we only started trying.

  5. Phil

    Excellent points – damned good article – now is the time to bring the blow torch to this disgusting tax and other exemptions scam. Morrison of course is utterly conflicted as a consequence of his membership of the evangelical/wealth accumulation Hillsong scam, just as Turnbull and a host of other Liberals are utterly conflicted on negative gearing reform due to their NG property holdings.

    What a bastard of a government we have had to endure since 2013. Why are Australian’s so passive in the face of aggressive disenfranchisement? French citizens are rioting as we speak, over proposed labour law changes and this is making their government tremble – yet our government brazenly pilfers the coffers, bastardises our democracy and all this does is make the people tremble – we really are a pathetic culture in the collective.

  6. stringybark


  7. kerri

    Hell yeah! Sick of paying taxes to support kiddy fiddlers and corrupt practices in the name of the fairy man in the sky. But will ScoMo change anything? Don’t hold your breath. The happy clapper sees “the good of God” as above the good of humanity.

  8. Bronte ALLAN

    And why not? It is almost “criminal” that ALL these religions, including ALL the quasi-religious ones (such as Hillsong, Scientology etc) should be classed a s tax free by the government! Unfortunately, whilst this inept, lying bunch of flat earth, tea party, right wing ultra-conservative, “religion supporting” Liberal mob are in power, this will probably never happen!

  9. keerti

    Sounds like a great idea!where do I sign up tp become religion?

  10. passum2013f

    Watch this space The gods might be with us on this one but we will have to speak in Tung’s to the Lyberal Nationals only then they might understand the word money for free.

  11. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    Some Christian schools require the staff to be practising members of that sect – which leads to some interesting changes to the science syllabus. In fairness – my first year as a maths teacher in England was at a Catholic Grammar school following the government syllabus!

  12. SGB

    Yes tax religious movements – but lets gomone stage further

    We are supposed tombe a secular society – therefore

    All religious property should be compulsary purchased, then those same properties can be rented to any religious group who wants to use them on a daily basis of course taking it in turns and respecting their rights to use the property for their peculiar brand of hypocrisy!

    Save all that angst over the right to build a mosque or synogogue pr cathedral etc.

    They will be just named a place of worship for those who wish to worship.

    Rents go to upkeep of the building.

  13. paul walter

    It’s more rubbish that has spread from the USA.. monkey see, monkey do.

  14. doobasdad

    It seems strange to me that so many of the conservative right cannot accept climate change, that is occurring in their life time but can believe in an ancient mystical being with the power to create a universe, seemingly without question, then expect all of us to take a cut in revenue to subsidise their crazy beliefs and the industry it spawns..

  15. Shevill Mathers

    Yes, across the board.

  16. Gangey1959

    Taxation of religion should not just be confined to the christians. Nail them ALL to the wall.
    Its easy. Take all of their money each week.
    Throw it all up in the air.
    What their various Gods want them to have, they’ll catch.

    PS. I wonder how handwringing and pious treasurer moronscum is going to pretend to be before he presents his farce of a budget next Tuesday. It really is a shame he doesn’t understand money, but he does have big teeth.

  17. townsvilleblog

    I have never been involved in religion, I had a couple of looks when I was young, at both the Roman Catholic’s and the assembly of god US cult, but both were selling the Bible message, and only one of them was fair dinkum. Anyway to cut a long story short, I worked out that the Catholics believed in what they were saying in the main, but I suspected that not all parishioners were fair dinkum, and as was later revealed some of the clergy were pedophiles. With the cult, I soon found that it was pure business for them, they charged 10% of your income “to belong” and were fair dinkum about preaching but only as a means to an end. Yes all organizations who derive an income should pay their fair share of income tax, bear in mind that these religious organizations don’t even pay rates for the land they own and build on. However the “big” revenue for government lies here http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-17/almost-600-companies-did-not-pay-tax-in-2013-14/7036324 this has been in the public domain now for in excess of 5 months tey the LNP have not moved to close the loop holes that these people work through. Do you think that because some of these people are Liberal Party donors that that fact has anything to do with the current government neglect, or could there be another reason?

  18. townsvilleblog

    Gangey1959 Ole’ Hillsong Morrison understands money alright, he is part of the assembly of god cult. What he and his tory (LNP) mates do not understand is how to manage public finances. The LNP don’t understand the subject, they understand private money, but are hopeless at public money, which is precisely why they want to privatize everything they grab hold of including “our” Medicare system. We must oust them on 2nd of July.

  19. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    Hahaha! If you think you’ve seen a religious uproar about SSM, that will be nothing if a political party put this one up as a policy! It’s time we did it. Lets see their true colours.

  20. Jack Russell

    It will need more than just removing their subsidies and taxing them. There are also large paper trails to forensically follow to chase down all their commercial holdings, including tax havens and all manner of other tricksy hiding places. Also, removing their tentacles from our governance, our legal structures, our health and education systems, finance, and all other other public service policy-making and delivery areas.

    Another area to consider (and my apologies for hijacking this thread) is our children’s welfare, particularly their developing minds. Who was who said give me the child and I’ll give you the man? I’d like to see the age of consent applied quite firmly here.

  21. Miriam English

    Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man” generally attributed to 17th Century missionary St Francis Xavier, one of the very first Jesuits.

  22. David

    Doesn’t really matter what the electorate wants does it? The Catholic (and hillsong) church, big 4 banks, multinationals and fossil fuel companies run this ‘government’, not the public!

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