In the rush to vote through Trump's trillion-dollar-plus tax gift to the super-wealthy, Congressional Republicans voted on unfinished drafts full of notes, erasures, and incoherencies, with no one really sure what they were casting a vote in favor of.
The Republicans, it turns out, were so eager to squeeze workers by disallowing tax breaks for parking, meals and other benefits that they ended up imposing a 21% tax on these benefits for workers at tax-exempt religious nonprofits — churches, synagogues, temples, etc.
These organizations will now have to file returns for the first time, creating a double-whammy of being forced to staff up a new record-keeping and tax-filing department and then paying thousands in new taxes.
Now, don't get me wrong. I think churches and synagogues should be taxed! The point is that Trump and the GOP literally didn't realize that they were hitting the religious institutions that they rely on to mobilize low-information turkeys to vote for Christmas every year, and now those institutions' leaders are furious, feeling like they were betrayed, and making noises about sitting out the 2018 elections.
"What we're talking about is an income tax on the church for providing parking to its employees — that's what we're talking about," said Mike Batts, chairman of the board of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which is circulating the petition denouncing the tax. "It's absurd."
He scoffs at the idea of treating businesses and nonprofits equally.
"The whole idea of tax exemption for nonprofit organizations that are doing charitable, religious and educational work is for them not to be on the same playing field as for-profit businesses when it comes to taxes, in order to incentivize the good work they do to make our society better," said Batts, who is also managing partner of an accounting firm that specializes in religious nonprofits.
Republican tax law hits churches [Brian Faler/Politico]