No more church concessions, secularists argue
A new political party in Tasmania is campaigning to limit the special treatment given to religious groups.
The Sunday Tasmanian reported that the Secular Party says the concessions amount to $30 billion a year.
They are referring to exemptions from council rates, freedom from payroll tax, income tax, fringe benefit tax, and GST.
The Secular Party's Frank Gomez estimated the cost at more than $30 billion a year. This includes $5.6 billion in Commonwealth grants to religious schools.
He said: "Where our party has a problem is not everyone is religious. A growing proportion of the population has no religion or little interest in religion at all yet we all pay our taxes subsidising it."
The party which will be campaigning in the lead-up to this year's federal election.
Its figures were drawn together from Budget documents, annual reports and approximates, which he said highlighted the need for official disclosure.
Gomez said churches had become deft at using the tax exemptions to their own advantage.
He said the Seventh Day Adventist Church claims tax exemptions on its commercial health food company Sanitarium.
Call for churches to pay up (Mercury, 9/9/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sanitarium Health Food Company
10 Sep 2007