Does the new federal tax law, commonly known as the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA), tax churches as some have argued? If so, is this tax appropriate?
The answers are “yes” and “yes.” The TCJA provisions taxing qualified transportation fringes treat secular and religious employers alike, including houses of worship. In a world of imperfect choices, the TCJA reasonably treats all employers fairly without entangling church and state inordinately.
Churches (including all houses of worship such as synagogues, temples and mosques) pay more taxes than many people believe. Churches do not pay property taxes or basic income taxes. But churches do pay the employer portion of federal social security (FICA) taxes for their non-clergy employees. Churches also often pay or collect state sales taxes on the tangible personal property they sell or purchase. In most states, churches also pay real estate conveyance taxes like other real estate purchasers and sellers.