More tax and religion
MAULE.Prof.Law at LAW.VILL.EDU
Wed Apr 29 12:54:09 PDT 1998
Maybe I missed this -- perhaps it has already been discussed in
connection with the briefs, but yesterday the Penna Supreme Court
heard arguments on whether it ought to overturn a 4-2 Commonwealth
Court (intermediate appellate court) decision that the sales tax
ought to be collected on religious books.
The state takes the position that the exemption is permissible. Its
attorney argued the exemption is equivalent to the real estate tax
exemption for churches. He argued that the Boerne case has no
reasoning that applies to the sales tax case. The attorney for those
who are challenging the exemption argued that the exemption
constitutes "unconstitutional support of religion" by the state
government. The challengers include a publisher of nonreligious books
and a consumer.
Pending the litigation the sales tax is not being collected. If
collected, it would raise $900,000 annually. (Which, using my tax
math, suggests that there is about $1.5 million annually in sales of
religious books and articles).
The exemption was enacted in 1956 (which may be when the sales tax
was enacted -- I can't remember because it precedes my interest in
law, tax, and religion). The exemption also applies to religious
Professor of Law
Villanova University School of Law
Villanova, PA 19085
maule at law.vill.edu
(610) 519 - 7135
"government big enough to give you everything you want is also big
enough to take away from you everything you have"
-- George Herbert Walker Bush
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