A small Alaska town may become the first in the nation to tax its churches and other non-profits.
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Nome, Alaska, is a tiny town of less than 4000 people. Despite its size, its name is well-known, showing up in popular culture venues from "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour" of the 1950's, to "The X-Files," to "The Simpsons Movie." And Nome is the finish line of the 1049 mile-long Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Nome, Alaska, may one day soon be known for another reason: as the first American town to tax its churches.
Strapped for cash, the town's Finance Director, Julie Liew believes taxing churches and other non-profits could raise $300,000 annually. The city council has already met to debate the idea, and it looks like they may move forward.
“You get rid of the sales tax exemption, most of the time these other exemptions aren’t given — we’re a very nice city [to do] it,” City Council member Matt Culley said, according to KNOM. “When we sit down at budget time, [with] the numbers to look at, if we want to donate that [money back to nonprofits], the money can go all back in … but we have control over it now, as opposed to it going whatever direction that we have it going now.”
The city council says they could refund the taxes collected in the future if the town's coffers are more full.
Estimates vary, but studies show exempting religion from taxes in America costs the taxpayers between $71 billion and $83.5 billion a year.
For comparison, America's food stamp program costs about $75-80 billion a year.