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Reader: What about the other nonprofits?




"Churches shouldn't be taxed" by Ahriana Platten I would like to offer another perspective for consideration. Every organization, for-profit and nonprofit, pays for their utilities (electric, gas and water). Those costs are simply part of doing business regardless of the positive contributions the organizations make. Paying for streets, police, fire and other infrastructure are no different

Rev. Dr. Platten makes a case for churches and religious organizations not paying taxes but does not include the other organizations that are under the same Internal Revenue Code section. The 501(c)(3) designation covers charitable, religious, scientific, literary and other organizations. One could cite the aggregate good done by all of the above types of organizations as justification for not paying taxes. So assuming the reverend does not want the special deal only for churches and religious organizations, maybe we should ask different questions.

Taking into account the good that nonprofits do, is there a reasonable expectation that they should also be good community citizens and contribute to the infrastructure they rely on? Or is it reasonable to cost shift their portion of local taxes to all citizens, even when individual residents may not agree with their missions, beliefs or programs? It is my understanding that Colorado Springs has about 2,000 nonprofits.

I have yet to see what the tax revenue from these entities would be. It would seem that a thoughtful discussion should begin with an understanding of the numbers of tax-exempt organizations by classification as well as the forgone revenue by type (property tax, sales tax, etc.).

While I'm not a tax attorney, perhaps nonprofits can pay the residential tax rate minus school taxes; perhaps they can pay a flat fee for infrastructure, police and fire; or perhaps they can be charged a rate lower than the business tax rate.

The repeal of the Johnson Amendment is another matter entirely. One that deserves its own letter.

— Mary J. Talbott, Colorado Springs

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