September 26, 2012
Churches and Tax in Germany
German corporate law dictates that the state collect religious taxes from registered Catholics, Protestents and Jews. The state then distributes what it collects to the religious communities. These funds help to run schools, hospitals, and charitable works. Roman Catholic bishops believe that German believers who refuse to pay the special church tax could be shut out of Catholic worship--and Germany's top administrative court agrees.
The legal challenge to the tax began when a retired professor of canon wanted to stop paying the Catholic Church's tax, but continue to practice the religion. Archbishop Robert Zollitsch points out that the church exists in Germany as a statutory corporation and one cannot abandon that legal status without abandoning the faith. Zollitsch goes on to note that whoever wants to belong to the CHurch must contribute to the church what it needs to do its work.
A Catholic reform movement says that the tax decree is questionable under Church law until it is approved by the proper Vatican department.
See Tom Heneghan, German Court Backs Catholic Church Against Tax Opt-Outs, Reuters, Sept. 26, 2012.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this blog to my attention.
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