More on Taxing the Church in Italy

Following up on an item we covered in December, a law clarifying the Catholic Church’s responsibility for property taxes is making its way through the Italian Parliament. Although media reports describe the law as controversial, it actually breaks little new ground, Time Magazine reports. Since 2005, the Church has had to pay tax on property it uses for commercial purposes; the Church does not object to that. Property used for non-commercial (religious and non-profit) purposes remains exempt; no one, except perhaps the Radical Party, seems to object to that. The only controversy is what to do with mixed-use property: property that is used for religious and commercial purposes, like a convent that contains a chapel as well as a few rooms for tourists. Under the new law, only those parts of mixed-use property that are used for commercial purposes would be subject to tax. Religious entities would be required to account for which parts of their property are in fact used for commercial purposes. The law’s opponents argue that this arrangement is susceptible to abuse; in a country where tax enforcement is so lax, they argue, no one is likely to check the accounting.

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