At theology school, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to other scholars nit-picking the lifestyles of various Christian denominations groups. We were all especially annoyed with the idea that Mennonites did not have to pay taxes. Before graduating, I decided to spend eight weeks studying federal tax laws concerning denominations like the Mennonites. Luckily, I was friends with a seasoned lawyer who helped me better understand the tax parameters for recognized religious groups like the Mennonites. Last year, I was invited to speak at a cross-denominational conference, where one of the main topics was the involvement of separationist denominations in civil affairs. Several people in the audience raised the issue of Mennonites and tax exemptions. Thanks to my detailed research on this topic, I was able to shed some light on this subject. So, do Mennonites pay taxes?
Contrary to popular belief, Mennonites pay several taxes. First, they have to pay income tax to the federal government just like any other working citizen. Second, their faith does not hinder them from paying property taxes. Mennonite communities usually own big chunks of land, which warrant hefty property taxes. Less conservative Mennonites also pay certain consumption taxes based on the facilities, services, and products they use. For instance, progressive Mennonite women who use cosmetic products pay the high taxes imposed on the cosmetic industry. That said, Mennonites are exempt from paying Medicare and social security taxes owing to their beliefs on the concept of insurance.
In this article, we will debunk the myths about paying taxes and the Mennonites. We will discuss the various taxes that Mennonites pay. Read along to also learn about the tax exemptions that the Mennonites enjoy.
What kind of Taxes do Mennonites pay?
Mennonite groups pay different types of taxes based on their levels of conservativeness. Mennonites in employment or conducting income-generating activities such as business must pay income tax just like other citizens. Mennonites readily accept this tax because the gospel of Luke 20:25 urges Christians to render to Caesar what belongs to him. Mennonites believe that it is God’s will for citizens to pay their tithes and taxes.
Additionally, land-owning Mennonites cannot escape property taxes. This is because property taxes are the primary source of revenue for local governments. Old Order Mennonites and other more conservative groups of Mennonites prefer to live in large farms away from cities. This means that they have to pay quite a lot in property taxes.
Finally, progressive Mennonites pay many of the consumption taxes that other citizens pay. For instance, Mennonites who are not opposed to using automobiles are liable to pay gasoline taxes. While gasoline taxes vary for different states, the average amount per gallon is 48.1 cents. The government use these fund to maintain the roads and develop better transportation infrastructure.
Why are the Mennonites exempt from Social Security taxes?
Mennonites do not agree with the notion behind the insurance industry. To them, investing money in insurance is a sign that one does not trust God. The Social Security system is a way to ensure one’s financial status during old age. As such, the Mennonites have waived any rights to receiving social security benefits, welfare, or unemployment benefits. Under these circumstances, the law exempts the Mennonites from paying Social Security taxes since they will not enjoy the benefits of these programs. According to their faith, the community should watch out for each other, even in old age. They cite 1st Timothy 5:8 as their justification of why everyone should chip in whenever a member of the Mennonite community is in need. This scripture clearly states that people who turn their backs on their needy relatives are worse than nonbelievers. This is why Mennonites always raise money to help elderly members who may otherwise need Social Security benefits to cater to their needs.
What other taxes do the Mennonites not pay?
On account of their strict Christian doctrines, Mennonites do not pay numerous consumption taxes. For example, Mennonites do not believe in smoking cigarettes or drinking alcoholic beverages. This means they are exempted from the hefty taxes imposed on cigarettes and Alcohol.
The Mennonites also strongly oppose vices such as gambling. This means they do not pay taxes for Gambling winnings because they do not visit casinos. Old Order Mennonites strictly adhere to their ideologies on simplicity. That means that they shun fashionable clothing, and the women do not use make-up. They avoid certain cosmetic products, such as hair extensions which are heavily taxed by the government.
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in the U.S. and Canada enjoy exemptions from income tax under certain conditions. The MCC is a recognized nonprofit organization that does much charity work. According to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), nonprofit organizations do not need to pay income taxes, which means the Mennonite Central Committee in Europe and Canada does not need to file Form 990.
It is worth mentioning that Old Order Mennonites use horses and buggies for transportation, just like their Amish counterparts. This particular group of Mennonites are exempt from gasoline and diesel taxes. They are also not required to pay import duty on imported cars or other taxes associated with automobiles.
How do the Mennonites claim tax exemptions?
To be legally exempted from taxes such as Social Security, Mennonites must meet certain conditions. First, they must prove that they’re self-employed. Second, they must apply for tax exemption by filling out Form 4029 with the IRS. Form 4029 exempts Mennonites from paying Medicare taxes and receiving the benefits that accompany these taxes. In case they are not self-employed, Mennonite employers will also need to file the Social Security Tax Exemption form to prevent Social Security deductions. Remember that you have to show tangible proof that you are part of a recognized religious group such as the Mennonite and the Amish.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.