Churches and places of worship in the U.S. have been unofficially tax-exempt since the country’s founding and received an official federal tax exemption in 1894. All 50 US states and the District of Columbia exempt churches from paying property tax and allow donations made to places of worship to be tax-deductible. The debate continues over whether or not these tax benefits should be retained.
The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies churches as 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organizations. Unlike secular charities, however, churches are automatically considered to be 501(c)(3) organizations, and, while they may do so voluntarily, they are not required by law to submit an application for exemption or pay the application fee.
New 2015 data from the IRS acquired by Community Commons shows locations and some denominations of places of worship based on tax filing requirement codes.
Explore the data in your community and tell us what you find in the comments below! Are there more or less tax exempt places of worship in your city or town than you thought? Do you think churches and places of worship should continue to be tax exempt?