The Kansas House of Representatives is debating legislation that would compel religious nonprofits to pay sales taxes.
“As originally drafted, House Bill 2549 would have repealed the sales tax exemption enjoyed by all non-profits, as well as a host of other organizations,” the Kansas Catholic Conference noted in a March 4 statement. “However, the bill was amended in committee so that only religious non-profits, including churches, would lose their tax exemption.”
“Thus the bill in its current form discriminates against organizations that serve the poor if they happen to be religiously affiliated. If passed, Catholic Charities will have to start paying the sales tax, whereas an organization that performs a similar service but is not religiously affiliated will not. This is not only bad policy, but it may well be unconstitutional.”
We would expect something this brazen in states like New York, Illinois or California, not Kansas. Surely the sponsors know that in the unlikely event they succeed, the courts will strike the legislation. Not only do houses of worship and their charitable ancillary groups fulfill the express purpose of granting a tax-exempt status in the first place—servicing the common good—they cannot be singled out among non-profits in such a discriminatory manner. If it were libraries, hospitals, foundations or colleges and universities that were subject to having their tax-exempt status pulled, it would be met with great resistance. Bet on Catholics, as well as Protestants, Jews and others, to register their outrage.
We know that due to incompetence and cowardice, Republicans and Democrats at the federal, state and local levels have created a fiscal nightmare for the American people. To think they can resolve this issue by punishing the faithful is as irresponsible as it is delusional.