Do Mennonites Pay Taxes? (Answer: Yes)
Mennonites are well-known in popular culture for adhering to their call to be "in the world, but not of the world."
But this same credo has made them easy for people to confuse Mennonites for Amish when they're very different groups.
Because this confusion is so pervasive, it often makes people wonder -- do Mennonites pay taxes?
In this blog, we'll answer that question in detail.
So Do Mennonites Pay Taxes?
In short, yes, Mennonites pay taxes.
They pay all of the taxes that a non-Mennonite citizen would, mostly because they're more or less integrated into everyday life (with the exception of a few denominations).
Regardless, Mennonites work, live, and even drive -- for the most part -- like everyone else. This means they're subject to the same taxation as everyone else.
- Income tax
- Property tax
- Payroll tax
- Sales tax
This is true for the United States, as some forms of taxation may be different in other countries. This is important to note because Mennonites are surprisingly diverse and widespread throughout the world, especially in countries like Kenya and -- even more surprisingly -- China.
So with that in mind, are there any tax exemptions for Mennonites in the United States?
The answer is yes -- though they're the same ones that apply to everybody else.
Possible Tax Exemption Reason 1. Religious Institutions
Mennonites are just as capable as starting churches and religious organizations as the followers of any other faith.
As a result, it's possible for Mennonite institutions to be tax exempt to some degree, especially churches and non-profit charities.
The same laws would apply to someone employed by these institutions.
For everyone else -- like the people attending a Mennonite church -- they're still subject to regular taxation in their everyday lives, regardless of their declared faith.
The same is true for any organization founded by Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, and even the Church of Satan. Their institutions are exempt from taxation, their employees also have some exemptions, but the people who engage with those institutions are not exempt from anything by virtue of their religion.
Even so, there is at least one reason why a Mennonite may be exempt from at least one form of taxation.
Possible Tax Exemption Reason 2. No Driver's License
Depending on the denomination of a Mennonite, they may or may not choose to drive cars.
This means that there could be stricter, more conservative Mennonites who drive a horse and buggy without ever having to earn a driver's license.
As a result, this also means that they wouldn't pay taxes associated with having a driver's license or car registration.
Because most states in the US allocate those taxes to road maintenance and construction, it means horse-and-buggy Mennonites are essentially treated to free roads, simply because their faith prevents them from driving and no state requires a driver's license for buggies.
(We'll tackle the intricacies of that decision in another blog.)
But this isn't any different from anyone else. If you're not Mennonite and you never get a driver's license, you also don't pay the taxes associated with driving.
The only difference is that you may not have a horse at the ready to take you places.
Still, all of this information only applies to Mennonites living in the US.
What about the rest of the world?
Possible Tax Exemption Reason 3. Existing Outside the United States
Diving into the tax status of Mennonites throughout the world is a tall task, to say the least.
In some countries, Mennonites are welcomed as an addition to the country's diverse religious landscape. In this case, a Mennonite church or institution (along with its followers) follow the official tax code of those countries.
In others -- like China -- Mennonites are persecuted with other followers of faith on an ongoing basis. In fact, according to the Department of State, religious persecution escalated in China among Christian denominations as recently as 2022.
In this case, Mennonite churches, institutions, and practitioners are often in hiding or -- at the very least -- don't share their beliefs in public because of the constant threat of violence.
So in effect, they're tax exempt -- but only because they're not recognized or registered in any way with a governing body.
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