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Greyhawk City taxes and the Clergy

 
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Lanthorn
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Joined: Sep 09, 2009
Posts: 2410
Location: SW WA state (Highvale)

PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:57 pm    Post subject: Greyhawk City taxes and the Clergy Reply with quote

Got into a good, almost heated, debate yesterday on this topic. I won't offer my thoughts on the matter so as to get an untainted opinion from my respondents.

1) Do the temples/churches of the various Powers have to pay taxes to the City of Greyhawk, or are they exempt?

2) If they pay, what is the percentage? If not, explain why.

3) Do the religious institutions have to pay any type of tax on monies and/or goods earned from tithing? If so, what is the percentage?

4) Do the clerics have to pay any type of fee or tax on spells cast by their members (ex: healing, protections, Raising Dead, etc.)? If so, how much or what is the percentage?

5) Does the City of Greyhawk require documentation of miracles (spell-casting) performed by the clergy?

6) If a person comes to the City deceased (slain), and is then Raised/Resurrected, does the City first require a Death Certificate followed by a Raise/Resurrection certificate? If so, what is the fee for each document?

Please offer your thoughts and opinions on as many of these queries as you can. I have perused my sources (especially the Greyhawk City boxed set) and have not found any information to clarify any of these points. If you have, or can cite your source, please do so. Otherwise, your perspective on these questions is still valid.

thank you,

Lanthorn


Last edited by Lanthorn on Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Vulcan
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Joined: Mar 12, 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it's not in the City box, odds are it doesn't exist anywhere outside Gary's grave. Feel free to make up your own.
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Cebrion
Black Hand of Oblivion
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Joined: Feb 16, 2003
Posts: 3693
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 3:37 am    Post subject: Re: Greyhawk City taxes and the Clergy Reply with quote

My opinions:

1) Yes. The temples have the protection of the City Guard, along with other services, just as every one else's property does, so they have to pay taxes.

2. That is up to you, though the quarter location and property size/value are likely factors in the tax levied.

3) No. They might pay a standard tax rate on anything they receive payment on, whether those things are items or services*.

4) *See above.

5) "Miracles" is a bit of a fluid term in a fantasy world where the miraculous might very well not be a so uncommon thing. Miracles are things that are practically unheard of, and most clerical magic won't fall into the realm of being considered miraculous. What is considered miraculous really depends on the campaign though. If tieflings and aasimar are roaming around your campaign on a daily basis, almost anything is not going to be considered very miraculous (i.e. people will just be a bit jaded as to the whole "miracle" thing if half-demons and half-angels walk the world openly). Now, if true clerics, meaning those able to channel divine power in the form of spells, are actually rare, such that a person might be lucky to witness a divine spell effect once or a few times at most over their entire lifespan, then yes, even basic divine spells might be considered miraculous. At any rate, the city would want to know about such individuals, as they could be either helpful to (or dangerous to) the powers that be.

6. That sounds like bureaucracy worthy of the 9th plane of hell! If death and revival is a wham-bam affair, then no. If somebody dies and is resurrected after a notable passage of time, then likely yes; definitely yes if there was some sort of legal inheritance involved. A death certificate shouldn't be expensive though. Such a thing is needed by everyone, eventually, so the fee shouldn't bankrupt the lowest of the low, such that they end up in the prison workhouse working off their debt to the city. Unless, of course, you want your world to be that grim and messed up. Evil Grin
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Lanthorn
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Joined: Sep 09, 2009
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Location: SW WA state (Highvale)

PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cebrion,

Thank you for your point by point response (that's what I was hoping for).

Ceb, interested you have temples and churches pay taxes, b/c in 'our world' they are exempt, aren't they?!

Clarification: As for the term 'miracle' I meant divine spell-casting. So, in essence, would the temples and churches be taxed for providing spells to the general masses, adventurers, and its parishioners?

-Lanthorn

anyone else (Cebrion feel free to chime back in)?
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Cebrion
Black Hand of Oblivion
Black Hand of Oblivion


Joined: Feb 16, 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lanthorn wrote:
Ceb, interested you have temples and churches pay taxes, b/c in 'our world' they are exempt, aren't they?!

Religious institutions may very well be exempt from most direct taxes paid at a state and federal level in the US, but have paid local utilities taxes until recently in many cases. Also, I believe that religious institutions that make money in a retail manner, rather than solely rely on donations/tithes, do have to pay certain taxes if they make beyond a certain amount.

Lanthorn wrote:
Clarification: As for the term 'miracle' I meant divine spell-casting. So, in essence, would the temples and churches be taxed for providing spells to the general masses, adventurers, and its parishioners?

That's really up to you. A church could finagle things and ask for a "suggested donation" for their...beneficence, and so perhaps avoid paying tax on what is obviously a service; especially if it is offered to someone not of the faith. Any legitimate church, especially one of good alignment, should be offering aid to those who need it out of the goodness of their hearts and not for coin. If the church makes no money, meaning they offer something for free, or that only requires the person receiving the item/spell to cover any material costs, then I wouldn't tax it. Most will offer tithes out of respect for what is being done, even those who are not members of the faith who receive such benefits. Another thing of value is a reputation for magnanimity; both for the church that is offering the item/service, and for the person receiving such things whose generosity in tithing will no doubt become known among the faithful of that church. And an inability to pay a tithe is a very different thing from not paying a tithe due to being stingy/unappreciative.

Alternately, if you would prefer a more "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" type of arrangement, with churches being completely exempt from taxes, the city might grant such a boon to those churches who "volunteer" services to the city.
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CruelSummerLord
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1) Yes, I would say that Greyhawk's churches do pay taxes, although in keeping with the Free City's libertarian and monetary character these are generally kept pretty low, something like 2-3% of income for the year. This is as much pragmatic as it is ideological, since too-heavy taxes would cause no end of headaches from the temples of places like St. Cuthbert and especially Zilchus, and they would run small temples such as those to Xerbo, Incabulos and Nerull out of business altogether.

2) As I said in the previous answer, the tax rate is very low because of the general attitude to taxes and economics the Free City holds. One of the reasons Greyhawk's armies tend to be so weak is because the Free City doesn't have a very big military budget. Its strength lies in allies ranging from Furyondy to the Horned Empire who would likely defend it in case of war with Dyvers, the Duchy of Urnst or the Pomarj, not its own prowess.

3) No, they don't have to pay anything specific on tithing. Money earned from tithing, spellcasting and other duties is all considered 'income' for the purposes of taxation. Greyhawkers love their flat taxes.

4) See previous answer. As with tithing, money earned from spellcasting for hire is lumped in with other revenue sources. Taxation may be reduced from its initial sum for spells cast for the benefit of the Free City as a whole (e.g. blessings and healing for the Greyhawk Militia). Every spell cast might earn a fixed sum of reduced taxation.

5) Only in the sense that most temples are expected to keep track of how much revenue they generate. The exact spells cast don't matter so much as exactly how much income the penitent paid. This accounts for changes in spell fees, whether lowering them for faithful, lower-level characters or raising them for higher-level characters who don't actually belong to the faith.

6) No, the formerly deceased person simply has to present themselves at a Greyhawk Revenue Service office. The death certificate is shredded and they are put back on the tax rolls. Note that the Free City, especially the GRS, takes an extremely dim view of tax cheats trying to use feign death magics to escape their tax obligations, or who otherwise don't make themselves known after they've come back, with all that that implies. Glodreddi Bakkanin is infamous for his creative sense of vengeance and his sheer ruthlessness, after all...
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Wolfling
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Joined: Sep 20, 2004
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Location: London, England

PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stumbled across this in the From the Ashes Campaign Book (p5):

"Temples must pay 5 sp per week for each resident priest; this has caused considerable friction with temples devoted to charitable works and the like (notably that of Pelor), but despite grumbling, the temples have paid the monies"

This tax is listed in a paragraph of 'big changes' due to Greyhawk's economic struggles post Greyhawk Wars so it implies previous to 585CY the churches hadn't paid such a tax ...

Hope this helps.
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