Joel Osteen
Source: Getty

Here Are All the Ways Mega-Preacher Joel Osteen Can Avoid Paying Taxes

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Apr. 5 2021, Published 10:05 a.m. ET

It's a tale as old as time: a grifting religious figurehead who preaches peace, love, and positivity for your fellow man, all while acting like they're an emissary for the one true God.

Not only do these individuals want you to believe that they're carrying the lord's message and doing the lord's work, but they want you to fork over your hard-earned cash so you can help them keep the good fight going.

Many believe mega-preacher Joel Osteen is this kind of individual, and folks want to know: does he pay taxes?

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Does Joel Osteen pay taxes?

While copies of his tax returns aren't available to the public, and they probably won't ever be (I mean Donald Trump was President and it took how long for his returns to come out?) there's a good chance that Joel Osteen is paying very little when it comes to taxes. 

Here's the thing: Joel's classified as clergy, which means any salary he makes as a clergyman is taxable.

does joel osteen pay taxes
Source: Getty
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However, Joel is a senior pastor of the Lakewood Church and decided to give up his $200,000 a year annual salary from the church back in 2005. Joel is a resident of Texas, one of nine states in the USA that has no income tax. 

Both Joel and his wife are subject to paying federal income taxes, however, there are probably a lot of ways that the couple can either extremely mitigate, or get out of paying that money.

Joel says that all of his income comes from book sales, and he earns an average of $3.5 million every year from said book sales and other religious events/ventures.

Since he's a member of the Lakewood Church, Joel can technically receive a bunch of allowances and stipends for his travel and lodging. These funds are not taxable.

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joel osteen books
Source: Getty

Theoretically, he can also have credit cards and other expense accounts through the church that he is not obligated to pay taxes on. The Lakewood Church is a huge money-making entity that has around a $90 million annual budget, so it's crazy to think that they don't have a top legal and accounting team making sure that everything is on the up and up, especially on paper.

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There are a lot of people who like to point out Joel Osteen's "hypocritical" ways, like the time he wouldn't open his megachurch to provide shelter in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. 

Or the fact that he said Lakewood didn't receive any federal assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic...but then it was revealed they were given some $4.4 million from the U.S. government.

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The money came in through the Paycheck Protection Program and while Congress denied certain small businesses access to the loan, churches and other houses of worship were included in the PPP initiative.

What is Joel Osteen's net worth?

According to Wealthy Genius, Joel Osteen has managed to amass a $100 million net worth as of 2021. And although he's been the subject of controversy in the past, he hasn't come under any significant legal trouble even though he's the religious face of a non-profit but manages to earn so much cash.

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joel victoria osteen
Source: Instagram

Other megachurch pastors haven't been so fortunate, however. Kirbyjon Caldwell was actually sentenced to six years in prison for reportedly "swindling" people out of millions of dollars in the name of God.

According to WILX, the senior pastor of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston got some people from his 14,000 member congregation to invest in a Chinese bonds scam.

The bonds had no financial value, and he allegedly used the roughly $3.5 million to fund debt, mortgage, and loan payments, as well as supplant his lifestyle and pay off credit cards. He was ordered to fork over $3,588,500 and was slapped with a $125,000 fine.

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