A plurality of U.S. adults (41%) say that houses of faith and religious organizations should not be exempt from paying taxes, according to a YouGov survey published November 3.
By comparison, 37% say they should be tax exempt and 23% are not sure.
Men (42%) were more likely than women (32%), Republicans (58%) were more likely than Independents (32%) and Democrats (29%), and respondents 65 and older (45%) were more likely than those ages 45-64 (40%), ages 30-44 (32%) and ages 18-29 (31%) to say houses of faith and religious organizations should be tax exempt.
Two additional surveys conducted by YouGov and published the same day asked respondents to share their views about the legality of political endorsements by houses of faith and religious organizations and about how frequently these entities endorse candidates.
A plurality (46%) said “it should be illegal for tax‑exempt churches and religious organizations to endorse political candidates,” compared to 22% who say it should be legal and 32% who are unsure.
Democrats (54%) and Independents (52%) were more likely than Republicans (35%), white respondents (52%) were more likely than Hispanic (45%) and Black respondents (32%), and adults 65 and older (53%) were more likely than respondents ages 45-64 (49%), ages 30-44 (46%) and ages 18-29 (35%) to say this should be illegal.
Internal Revenue Service regulations explain that “all IRC Section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, must abide by certain rules.” These rules include limitations on lobbying (“they must not devote a substantial part of their activities to attempting to influence legislation”) and on endorsement of political candidates (“they must not participate in, or intervene in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office”).
A majority (53%) say such endorsements happen very (27%) or somewhat (26%) often. By comparison, 17% say not very often, 8% never and 22% are unsure.
Men (58%) are more likely than women (49%), Democrats (63%) are more likely than Independents (54%) and Republicans (45%), white respondents (55%) are more likely than Hispanic (50%) or Black (49%) respondents, and respondents ages 30-44 (57%) are more likely than those ages 18-29 (53%), ages 45-64 (53%) or ages 65-plus (49%) to say that religious entities endorse political candidates very / somewhat often.