A cautionary about using the slippery term “tax expenditures” to describe the measures that protect private charities from taxation, from the book To Empower People by Peter Berger and Richard John Neuhaus:
The relatively new concept of tax expenditures . . . has been infiltrated into public policy. It is calculated, for example, that a certain amount of revenue is lost to the government because a private college is tax exempt. The revenue lost is called a tax expenditure. This may seem like an innocuous bit of bookkeeping, but the term expenditure implies that the college is in fact government-subsidized (a tax expenditure is a kind of government expenditure) and therefore ought to be governmentally controlled. This implication, which is made quite explicit by some bureaucrats, is incipiently totalitarian. The logic is that all of society’s wealth really belongs to the government and that the government should therefore be able to determine how all wealth—including the wealth exempted from taxation—should be used. The concept of tax expenditure should be used, if at all, as a simple accounting device having no normative implications.