Tax the Pope? Hey, It Could Happen!

Bloody hell. The European Humanist Federation estimates that the tax advantages of the Catholic Churches costs the Italian government 6 billion euros a year — roughly $7.8 billion US.

Could that change? Well …

Italian Catholic Church under pressure to start paying property tax

The Roman Catholic Church in Italy is under growing pressure to start paying taxes on its massive property portfolio, in a move that could raise up to 800 million euros (£680 million) a year and help bail the country out of its economic crisis.

Campaigners, most prominently parties on the centre left, say it is deeply unfair that Church-owned properties with a commercial function — for instance convents and monasteries that charge paying guests similar rates to four-star hotels — are exempt from property tax.

As the new technocrat government of Mario Monti seeks to slash the nation’s 1.9 trillion euro debt, attention is turning to the estimated 65,000 buildings owned by the Church.




  • echidna


  • Jeff Sherry

    Interesting if it would happen. I can see Vatican City claiming the properties are embassys free from taxation.

  • crowepps

    I can’t track it down right now, but I vaguely recall reading that at the time of the French Revolution, one-quarter to one-third of the property in France was owned by the Church, which acted as landlord and collected rents equivalent to those others charged, but paid no taxes.

    • RW Ahrens

      Another problem the French had was that over 80% of French real estate was owned by the nobility, which, again, paid no taxes. Thus, a huge percentage of the income in France at the time of the Revolution was tax exempt. Most of the taxes were paid by the general public.

      Hmm, 99% vs. the 1%. Huge tax/income gap and inequality resulted in a violent revolution.

      Sound familiar?

  • Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

    I can see absolutely no reason that any church anywhere shouldn’t have to pay property tax.

  • Abdul Alhazred

    The Vatican istelf is legally a sovereign nation and would not be taxed. What this article is talking about is church property in the rest of Italy.

    • hoverfrog

      Not exactly. The Vatican isn’t a nation at all but a city. The Holy See claims the status of a sovereign nation but has no land and no permanent citizens. It has not been recognised as a sovereign nation by the international community, only by the then fascist Italian government under Mussolini. It is treated as if it were a sovereign nation and is signatory to a number of treaties but this has never been tested in an international court of law. It should be.

  • hoverfrog

    I see no reason why they should be treated any differently to any other organisation. They should pay tax and be fully subject to the laws of the land.

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