TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cardozo Hosts Book Launch Today For Zelinsky's Taxing The Church

Taxing the churchCardozo is hosting a panel discussion with Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego), Brian Galle (Georgetown), and Daniel Hemel (Chicago) to discuss the new book by Edward A. Zelinsky (Cardozo), Taxing the Church: Religion, Exemptions, Entanglement, and the Constitution (Oxford University Press 2017):

  • Explores the taxation and exemption of churches and other religious institutions, both empirically and normatively
  • Reveals that churches and other religious institutions are treated diversely by the federal and state tax systems
  • Focuses on church-state entanglements with respect to taxing or exempting churches and other sectarian entities
  • Discusses improvements that can be made in legal and tax policy trade-offs, such as the protection of internal church communications and the expansion of the churches' sales tax liabilities
  • A clear, balanced, and comprehensive treatment of the topic that is broadly accessible to tax policymakers, lawyers, nonlawyers, judges, tax specialists, and even those with no background in the subject

Peter J. Reilly has an extensive review on Forbes.  Other reviews:

"Comprehensive in its scope, yet nuanced in its analysis, Taxing the Church deftly explores the tensions between church and state in the tax context and offers a pragmatic path towards an appropriate resolution of these tensions by focusing on the question of church/state 'enforcement entanglement.' In an era of political and social polarization, in which church/state conflicts often generate more heat than light, Zelinsky has provided us with precisely what the debate needs: a commendably balanced, characteristically thoughtful, and highly original elucidation of the problem of taxing religious institutions." 
Walter Hellerstein, Distinguished Research Professor, Francis Shackelford Professor of Taxation, University of Georgia School of Law 

"At the heart of the book is a valuable insight: once the state starts to tax, entanglement between the government and the religious organizations is inevitable. Therefore, the calls to remove tax exemption on the theory that it will result in a fairer and more neutral system leads to the government delving into the inner workings of religious organizations. For many, that may be a plus, but for many others, that may be a bridge too far. That is the debate we need, and it is teed up beautifully in Taxing the Church." - Marci A. Hamilton, Fox Family Pavilion Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Program for Research on Religion, University of Pennsylvania6R 

"With great erudition and careful attention to the many complexities of our system of taxation and tax exemption for religious institutions, Professor Zelinsky makes a contextually sensitive case for taxation in certain contexts and not others. His discussion of 'enforcement entanglement' and 'borderline entanglement' is particularly rich and illuminating." - Marc O. DeGirolami, Professor of Law, and Associate Director, Center for Law and Religion, 
St. John's University School of Law  

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Comments

I hope the book discusses what I think is the most important church tax reform: extending to churches the requirement to file form 990 like other nonprofits. Churches should have to disclose the salaries of top employees, in particular, and rough budget numbers, in exchange for tax exemption. This would be a big benefit to religion----and bitterly opposed by the wolves that currently are in many pulpits, both evangelical and mainline.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Nov 9, 2017 8:08:27 AM