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October 14, 2014

Nigerian Megachurches' Wealth Raises Questions and Tax Calls

As Nigeria's economy grows, so too have questions and controversy surrounding the finances of the country's growing Pentecostal megachurches, which draw tens of thousands of parishioners who tithe hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to Reuters.

The churches' charity status, which exempts them from taxes and financial reporting obligations, is increasingly controversial in Nigeria, which now has Africa's largest economy but remains beset by poverty. Several pastors own private jet, and their churches invest in property and stock, according to Reuters. A national conference that met this year to debate Nigeria's constitution proposed taxing megachurches.

David Oyedepo, bishop of the popular Winners Chapel, said the churches should remain tax-exempt due to their community work. "We use the income of the church to build schools, we use the income of the church to serve the needs of the poor," he said. "These are nonprofit organizations."