In my first column, “Leap of Faith” I wrote “this space, my column, is intended to be a forum, open to discussion, open to all [...] together, we will try to challenge ourselves, to develop a dialogue, to float ideas no matter how crazy they might be.”
I’m glad to see that people are beginning to respond to the invitation. Two weeks ago, we turned these pages over to Bruce Bant, who had his rant against DADT and now, we turn to Dr. Jim Kemp, who shares his take on taxes:
Once again, this yearly April 15th ritual takes place. Most of you reading this article will have already filed your tax return for 2009 and paid your share. Some of you maybe received a refund after your taxes were deducted from the amount you gave to the United States during the course of the year.
For most of us in the gay community, we paid our taxes as single taxpayers. We did so even if we were in a committed relationship, have lived for many months or many years with our partner, maybe even own a house and/or other property together, and are considered to be viable couples in our community. In essence, as homosexual couples, we don’t exist as far as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is concerned.
I am happy to pay my fair share of taxes to the IRS. My partner is also happy to do so. And, I hope that someday my partner and I might be able to file a joint return just like many couples do across the fifty states within this Union. I know that what I consider to be a “fair share” is not what some corporations, some wealthy individuals, some not-for-profits, and others with CPAs on the payroll consider their “fair share”. However, the scope of this article focuses on only one such entity: organized religions.
It galls me that recognized, organized religions are exempt from paying taxes to the IRS under the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(a) (3). Recognized, organized religions do not pay taxes on most property they own, income they generate, or contributions they may receive for charitable, educational, scientific, and literary endeavors. The reason this galls me so is that most of these organized religions are very vocal in their opposition to the “gay lifestyle.” Yet, they want me, and other gay individuals, to pay our taxes to the IRS so they can continue to evade paying their “fair share.”
I don’t expect recognized, organized religions will care about what is written here and change their attitude. I do hope, however, that some of you will at least go to the sites listed with this article as starting points so that you can understand the enormity of the issue, and I hope you will recall the gist of this article when the collection plate is passed around or you receive a solicitation to give money to organized religious endeavors focusing on charitable, educational, scientific, and literary outreach.
I want to thank Dr. Kemp for his outburst. I also want to go a step further: Forget about the silly Tea Party or Tea Baggers initiatives going around the country, after all taxes are a necessary evil and let’s be real on this. We cannot pretend to have infrastructures, services, an army, homeland security, a police force (as flawed as it might be), various agencies, satellites, space programs, education for the children of the straight community, etc., without paying taxes.
At the same time I believe gay men have the undeniable right to abate their returns—of paying a lower percentage and be automatically placed in a lower bracket.
Why? It’s simple. We are not fully recognized as citizens. We do not have the right to marry, for example, and since marriage is such a big part of our society we should pay less until we can also partake in all the privileges, benefits and protections. As a matter of fact, if I can’t adopt a child in Florida, why am I paying school taxes for some straight guy’s son when I don’t have the same right to adopt my own son and send him to the same school?
Until we have the same rights as everybody else a dispensation from the IRS for
out gay men should be granted. I believe we should start asking for it. I think the
Human Rights Campaign should pick up the initiative and, for once, be proactive.
We have to start turning the tables where it counts and on issues that everybody can relate to.
I doubt however the HRC would actually be interested in this. They are too busy throwing parties, mingling with the Stars and giving themselves awards. They have become another self serving lobbying outpost and lost sight of their original charter. I have no use for them.
I want a 30% discount on my taxes until I can walk my partner down the isle of any City Hall. Why Not? Maybe I’ll ask our esteemed attorney, Norm Kent, to file a class action suit on our behalf.
While you are completing your returns read or listen to the lyrics from Taxman by the Beatles, still very appropriate 40 years later.
Let me tell you how it will be,
There’s one for you, nineteen for me,
‘‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don’t take it all.
‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
(If you drive a car ), I’ll tax the street,
(If you try to sit ), I’ll tax your seat,
(If you get too cold ), I’ll tax the heat,
(If you take a walk ), I’ll tax your feet.
Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
James C. Kemp holds a Ph. D., University of Washington, Speech-Language Pathology and Linguistics; an M.A., University of Florida, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; and a B.S., Syracuse University. Speech-Language Pathology and Audioloy. He is a professor, clinician, author, and teacher, working exclusively with and on behalf of pediatric populations exhibiting communication, language, and speech issues.
For those readers who want further information about the non-separation of “church and state,” one may go to the IRS.gov web site. If a reader wants to know what other organizations do not have to pay taxes to the IRS, a good site is http://tax- policycenter.org/briefing-book/key-elements/exempt/which.cfm.
Another most interesting site which provides detail after detail in a very readable format is http://churchlawtoday.com/private/library/pcl/p14b.htm.