Germany's God Tax...

27 September 2012

PythonGod We don’t normally cover much international news here on Bitterwallet. Not because us writers aren’t shocking cosmopolitan, but because we figure that you are interested in saving money in your own actual pocket. The one that is (generally) here in the UK.

However, when we saw this German tax story, we felt we just had to share. They have a God tax.

In 1803, religious property in Germany was nationalised, and religious sorts have paid tax since then to the Government, which then gets passed to the relevant church. Catholics, Protestants and Jews in Germany pay 8-9% of their income in this God Tax, which added up to €5bn from Catholics and €4.5bn from Protestants in 2011.

However, a recent court case has challenged the German authorities’ right to tax people on religion. Hartmut Zapp, a retired professor of church law, argued that under Catholic doctrine, Church membership was determined by a person's beliefs and not by a financial relationship. Professor Zapp said he wanted to continue praying and receiving Holy Communion but did not want to pay the religious levy.

While presumably the German authorites cannot physically stop him praying, judges at the Leipzig Federal Administrative Court, threw out his argument and ruled that Prof Zapp cannot have ‘partial’ Church membership.

The case, and a bishop’s decree supporting the decision, mean that, unless they pay the God tax, Catholics will no longer be allowed receive sacraments or work in the church and its schools or hospitals. Additionally, without a "sign of repentance before death, a religious burial can be refused". Opting out of the tax would also bar people from acting as godparents to Catholic children.

So what do you think? Is applying a religious levy merely a way of making sure those who claim to be Godly, put their money where their mouth is, or is it a ridiculous charge that should be illegal. Do you think you should have to pay tax for religious services, in much the same way that UK taxes go towards funding schools and healthcare or should churches (of any decription or denomination) be open to anyone who wants or needs them? Tell us in the poll below:


[BBC]

TOPICS:   Travel

7 comments

  • samuri
    strange as the tax man in this country thinks they are God too
  • Lois T.
    I declared membership of the Church of England. What, you can't work out where to send the money, TOO BAD MWUHAHAHA CUNNING SCHEME Although when I discovered they actually had one, and were quite eager about the taxation issue I went 'Bummer' and became a jedi knight.
  • God
    I could always arrange for Hitler to go back there you know -- and next time there'd be no more mister nice guy.
  • oliverreed
    Isn't this simply a tax on the stupid?
  • spraint
    It is easy to opt out of Church tax as I remember it when I lived and worked there. Just tell your employers no.
  • Mustapha S.
    Also helps pay for the psychiatric care for all the kids they end up bumming.
  • Sarah K.
    "pay 8-9% of their income in this God Tax" - actually it's not, it's 8-9% of their income tax. So, if income tax is around 20% then this tax works out as just under 2% of income.

What do you think?

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