Halo Effect and the Implications of Taxing Canadian Places of Worship
In May of 2012, Toronto Star columnist Ken Gallinger asked: “Are Tax Breaks for Places of Worship Outdated?”
Gallinger concluded: "I’m not quite ready to argue that houses of worship should be stripped, automatically, of charitable or tax-free status. Many still do community-based work that is enormously valuable, both socially and financially … but perhaps the time has come when places of worship wanting tax breaks should have to prove in some equitable way, that they deserve them."
In 2019, the Canadian Senate released its comprehensive review of legislation pertaining to the Canadian Charitable Sector. In an interview following the release of the report, Deputy Chair Senator Ratna Omidyar stated , “I think we need to recognize that religious institutions do more than simply preserve their religious beliefs; they extend themselves in very significant ways, and we should appreciate and recognize that, as opposed to looking at whether they should qualify (for charitable status) or not” (Boutros, 2019).
New research from the Halo Canada Project supports the Senate's findings. In a recent study of 50 congregations representing a variety of faith traditions from across the country, researchers observed a socio-economic impact more than ten times the value society would receive if these congregations were taxed.
Not only do the vast majority of Canadian congregations deserve and benefit from the charitable status Canada affords them - so do the communities they serve.