An interesting development out of Montreal, Canada, as local news outlets covered the municipal taxation of churches by the city government.
Joel Coppetiers, a minister at a Presbyterian church told reporters that he received the first tax bill for the church in early 2015, much to his shock. While provincial law exempts churches and manses from paying municipal taxes, if the building is left vacant between ministers, it becomes taxable.
Montreal city officials conducted a thorough inspection of every room at Coppetiers church and documented how each room was used. They determined that tax exemptions only applied to those areas used for public worship.
Since 2015, many other churches that host community groups, like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or food drives, are now receiving tax bills from the city. Coppetiers stated that the church even owed taxes for periods when it was closed for renovations.
The Trinity Memorial Church closed in February of this year, and the city began immediately taxing the property after services stopped. This immediate taxation is prompting churches to be sold quickly; in the case of the Trinity Memorial Church, it sold within two months.
I cannot imagine this happening in the United States, at least not to a widespread degree, but it sure would be welcomed by some people, myself included. With the level of noise that many pastors make regarding politics I think we should, like George Carlin said, "Make them pay the price of admission like everybody else." Given that Donald Trump just signed an executive order meant to allow churches to take on a more vocal role in political campaigning, it is unlikely that this current administration would do anything at a federal level. Maybe something will start at a state or city level, like with Montreal. After all, if politicians are so concerned with limited funds availability for all their budget requirements, let’s go where the money is.