Republicans Use Church Tax to Fund Millionaire Tax Cut

Nice church you have there. Does the archbishop have his own parking space? He does? The IRS will be in touch.Xinhua via ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Now here’s a sentence I’ll bet no one ever expected to read:

Republicans have quietly imposed a new tax on churches, synagogues and other nonprofits, a little-noticed and surprising change that could cost some groups tens of thousands of dollars.

Say what? Well, as you may recall, last year’s Republican tax cut on corporations and millionaires was actually considerably higher than the $1.5 trillion they budgeted, so they had to increase a bunch of other taxes to bring it in line. One of the ways they did that was to end tax breaks for fringe benefits. The problem is that churches don’t pay taxes. You can’t remove a tax break churches weren’t getting in the first place, so instead they simply imposed a brand new tax on fringe benefits for folks who work for churches. Politico explains further:

The main benefits affected are transportation-related, like free parking in a lot or a garage and subway and bus passes. It also targets meals provided to workers and, in some circumstances, may affect gym memberships….Churches and other groups want to know how they are supposed to go about calculating the value of things like parking spaces for employees. Some wonder if the garages provided as part of clergy residences are now taxable.

Evangelicals, like everyone else, are slowly learning that the Republican Party exists to serve the rich. If they can do stuff for their other constituencies, that’s great, but only if it doesn’t interfere with their primary mission. They’ll tax churches if that’s what it takes to balance their tax cut for the rich. They’ll ditch E-Verify if their business donors don’t like the idea of being prohibited from employing cheap undocumented workers. They’ll kill jobs in small companies that depend on cheap steel if that’s what it takes to provide big steel companies with profit-busting tariffs. They’ll blow away protections for pre-existing conditions if it will help big insurance companies and reduce Obamacare taxes on the rich.

Actually, though, I take that back: I doubt that evangelicals or anyone else are learning this. It’s been clear for decades and they still don’t seem to get it, after all. It’s amazing how long Republicans have been able to run this con.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate