State Senator Wants To End Religious Property Tax Exemption


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State Senator Wants To End Religious Property Tax Exemption

By Josh Egbert. CREATED Jan 24, 2014

Omaha, NE- Render unto Caesar, that which belongs to Caesar. That's the motivation behind a controversial bill that would require Nebraska churches to pay property taxes.

The charge is being led by Senator Ernie Chambers, who sued god back in 2007. Now, it appears he wants to tax him, too.

"The governor and candidates for governor have said that everything should be on the table when we're talking about the taxation." said Sen. Chambers.

One of those taxable entities Senator Chambers is brining to the table: churches.

"They have a tremendous amount of property when it comes to just the number of churches. It's close to 3000." said the Omaha Senator.

Chambers told the Revenue Committee Friday Afternoon, his bill could provide more money for the state.

"There would be less that the state has to pay in terms right away of aid to local governments." said Sen. Chambers.

The proposal would remove the property tax exemption for religious organization. The Secular Coalition for Nebraska, supports the legislation.

"We think it's time to have this debate, have this discussion. We don't think there's probably a good chance this will pass, but we most definitely support what Senator Chambers is trying to do here." said Justin Evertson of the Secular Coalition.

But opponents, like Jim Cunningham with the Nebraska Catholic Conference, says the bill would end a century-old policy that recognizes how religous groups serve the common good.

"Churches are not just ongoing associations of faith and spirituality, they are anchors a beneficial and stabilizing influence in community life of all sorts." said Cunningham.

Senator Chambers, who told his colleagues this should be one of the easiest bills to passe he's ever offered, says is all about equalization.

"I believe everybody should pay their fare share." said Chambers./

Senator Chambers did not say how much money the bill could generate. The bill is unlikely to advance out of the Revenue Committee, but says he may attach it as an amendment to other bills he proposes.