Why are churches exempt from paying property taxes?

Do they get a break because they consider themselves a “not-for-profit” organization?

“Do they get a break because they consider themselves a ‘not-for-profit’ organization?”

Close. They get a break because the relevant tax authority (IRS, state Revenue Department, etc.) considers them to be a not-for-profit organization. It’s not enough by itself for the church to think – or claim – that it’s not for profit when it doesn’t fit the legal definition.

The IRS has successfully prosecuted a number of people and organizations who claimed they were “churches.” There is a difference between a religion and a tax dodge.

North American governments often tend to support religion. Check around your area to see if when the original land deeds were given out churches were given land by the government of the time.

I believe the rationale behind it comes from the 1st admendment. Taxation of a church would be a hinderence to freedom of religion.

This was how a professor explained it to me in a law class way way back in the early 80s.

“The Power to Tax is the Power to Destroy.” – John Marshall.

And that’s why. By taxing churches, the government could put them out of business and go after a sect that they don’t approve of. So if the Protestants running the government decided that the Catholics shouldn’t be allowed, they could set a tax on Catholic churches and saddle them with that burden.

The IRS does determine a church from a scam, but if it’s a real church, they cannot tax it.

Hold on a second - the OP asked about property taxes, just about everyone here has given answers relating to the IRS (i.e. income taxes). I actually was not aware that churches were exempt from property taxes.

Same deal, really. In any event, they aren’t taxing the church even if they did collect them. It’d be just another tax on a comunity.