It is very clear and simple that all churches that exist in Zimbabwe are built on Zimbabwean land. All church goers whether Christians, Moslems or Islams walk or drive to their respective churches on government roads. As a result I don’t see any reason for churches to be exempted from paying for the services they utilise.
Most churches operate as business institutes, for example churches like Roman Catholic, Anglican and Methodist which own land, hospitals, schools and farms which do not offer free services to the community.
Proceeds from the church operations should be taxed.
However, the government should exempt taxing offerings and tithes from church members. I believe that tithes and offerings should be used to pay pastors and funding of other church programmes.
Almost all churches receive free services. Religions influence societal opinion hence they should also be involved in the taxation activities.
It is of great importance to note that nowadays churches vary one from the other. Long back, only the conventional churches were involved in charitable social services. These churches would always make themselves available to the community and provided services to the local people despite their race or background. Almost all of these churches helped the poor and the people in need. They provided many social services for the destitute and needy, and reached out to them in different ways.
Today’s churches are involved in a number of activities which help them make tonnes of profit daily. Most churches are now business entities that hide behind the name of the church. I strongly believe there is nothing wrong with a church owning an arm or branch of business. This will assist the country in mending its ailing economy. What is immoral before the state and God is failure of that church to pay taxes. In the Bible, Jesus made it even clear that as citizens of whatever country we live in, we should pay our taxes.
Churches are often utilised for profit. Some churches sell bricks, anointing oil and towels saying its church members should buy these products as a way of sowing their seeds. Generally the way this economy works is that if you own a business, you get taxed. If churches are involved in any businesses they should pay their share.
As of today, many church leaders spend most of their time holding conferences in expensive hotels at the expense of offering charitable services. There are a number of street kids, the blind and disabled who are in need of food, shelter and clothes nationwide. Churches should be engaged in offering such services to the community.
Churches are now among the wealthiest organisations in the country and abroad. For that reason, churches and their founders therefore sometimes promote themselves to face tax scrutiny. Taxation naturally applies to profit-makers thus, the generators of revenue.
If churches are making profits, just like private hospitals and private schools, they should also pay income tax which is 30 % of the proceeds they make on their operations annually.
Pastors’ hefty salaries, salaries of church officials and those receiving rentals from church organisations should be taxed. This is in conformity with the tax laws of the country that say that if the church employs someone, maybe a secretary earning a salary above $250, the church must pay Pay As You Earn on behalf of the employee.
Just like other nations the world over, if a church is not engaged in any form of business but certain individuals are involved, the church should not be taxed per se but those people accumulating wealth through church activities should be taxed.