This thread in GD – “Should Churches Who Campaign For Bush Lose Their Non-Profit Status?” – http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=264624 – got me to wondering: Just what is the tax status of churches in America? I mean, “everybody knows” churches don’t pay taxes – but is this because they are churches, or are they just favored with the same tax-exempt status of non-profit organizations generally? Also, is the situation the same for different levels of taxation? Are churches exempt from city and county property tax? State sales tax? Federal income tax?
And if churches do have a tax-exempt status not enjoyed by other non-profits – how do they square that with the First Amendment?