21 August 2014, The Tablet

New tax exodus from Churches in Germany

The first half of 2014 saw a further upsurge of people leaving both the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany

Ten thousand Protestants formally left their Church in Berlin, more than the total number in the whole of 2011 and 2012, and in Catholic Bavaria 14, 800 left between January and June compared to 9 800 during the whole of 2013.

In Bavaria and Baden Württemberg church tax is 8 per cent, and in the other German states it is 9 per cent of a person’s net income.

Church tax on wages is levied automatically at source by the German Finance Office but it also applies to capital gains. Up to now taxpayers have had to declare the latter on their income tax returns but from January 2015 the tax will be deducted automatically by their banks. Banks have therefore had to ask their clients to state their religious denomination.

Remarried divorcees have written in to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung saying that they have formally left because they are afraid that the church authorities will find out that they have remarried in a register office and if they state as much on paper they may be barred from the sacraments.

Despite the sinking membership, both Churches collected record sums in church tax in 2013. The Catholic Church collected 5.5 billion euros and the Protestant Church 4.8 billion.

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