Roman Catholic Churchto pay VAT for first time

22nd September 2006, Comments 0 comments

22 September 2006, MADRID — The Spanish Roman Catholic Church is going to have to pay VAT for the first time, the government announced on Friday.

22 September 2006

MADRID — The Spanish Roman Catholic Church is going to have to pay VAT for the first time, the government announced on Friday.

María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, deputy prime minister, said a deal had been reached with the Spanish Episcopal Conference, the Catholic church's ruling body, which will mean it will have to pay VAT in line with European law.

State contributions to the Church will rise from 0.52 per cent of income taxes to 0.7 per cent.

The Church had asked for a rise of 0.8 per cent.

The deal comes after months of wrangling between the socialist government and the ruling council of the Spanish Church.

The negotiations have not been helped by the worsening relations between Rome and Madrid over a series of reforms introduced by the socialist government.

These include speedier divorces and gay marriage and adoption.

But the Spanish Roman Catholic Church was forced to agree to pay VAT after the European Commission threatened legal action.

It will mean they will be charged VAT on churches, pews  and even the wine used during communion.

In Spain, all taxpayers have a portion of their income tax paid to the Church if they give permission.

If they refuse to let their taxes go to the Church, the state makes up the difference.

Bishop Ricardo Blázquez, president of the Episcopal Conference, asked for a hike in the payment from 0.52 percent of income tax to 0.8 percent.

But Pedro Solbes, economy minister, said this was "excessive".

Every year, the government pays around EUR 30 million towards Church coffers.

In 2002, the Church received EUR 105 million from income tax, plus an extra EUR 27 million from the government.

Every year fewer people give their income tax contributions to the Church.

In 1993, 42 percent of Spaniards allowed their income tax to be paid to Rome, while in 2004, it had fallen to 33 percent.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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