The Prosperity Gospel and the Plight of the Poor: Considering increased financial accountability for tax exempt churches
Murphy, Jonathan A.
Washington and Lee University, Shepherd Poverty Program
Church property -- Taxation
Church finance -- Accounting
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Capstone; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]Jonathan A. Murphy is a member of the of Washington and Lee University School of Law class of 2018.This paper seeks to examine the tax exempt status of churches, their lack of accountability, and the potential for abuse that exists as a consequence. It seeks to answer whether, on the basis of the public policy goals underlying the tax-exempt status, requiring churches to submit annual financial disclosures could provide a constitutional and effective means for 1) providing government accountability for religious organizations in order to ensure compliance with existing tax law; and 2) providing the public with information regarding the use of church funds and thus greater agency to church donors. The paper concludes that providing these minimally intrusive disclosure requirements will do more to protect religious liberty than it would to harm it.Jonathan Murphy