Church And Taxes - how is this in Ireland?

Discuss church-state separation issues that are relevant in Ireland.
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nozzferrahhtoo
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Church And Taxes - how is this in Ireland?

Post by nozzferrahhtoo » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:03 pm

An interesting precedent being set in Greece where the Church is being taxed. The amount of money they expect to make out of it is not paltry at 10million but far from the levels that the government needs now.

http://www.news.com.au/business/greece- ... s+news_rss

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/mar/10032407.html

It raises the question as to how it works in Ireland. I honestly do not know. I know charities in Ireland are not taxed, which is probably what the Church in Ireland is hiding behind? Can anyone with knowledge of this let me know and exactly what the set up is in Ireland?

However how much charity work does the Church actually do? It seems to me that much of its charity expenditure is made up of redirecting funds to ACTUAL charities and retaining the rest. Is this so? And if so is an organisation that takes in money, pays its employees, and redirects money not more of a broker than a charity and hence a taxable business? If I set up a profit making business tomorrow doing the exact same thing, would I not be liable for taxation?
bipedalhumanoid
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Re: Church And Taxes - how is this in Ireland?

Post by bipedalhumanoid » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:46 pm

I've been looking for quite some time for some kind of solid stats on the cost to the Irish tax payer to no avail.

The Australian Secular Party claim that the total cost of Religion to the Australian tax payer when taking into account lost tax revenue and government funding of religious services is A$30 Billion (€20.3 Billion) per annum

The Australian arm of the Catholic church takes revenue of A$19 Billion (€12.85 Billion) per annum despite the fact that only 25% of the population claim to be catholic and only 7% actually attend church regularly.
"The fact of your own existence is the most astonishing fact you will ever have to face. Don’t you ever get used to it." - Richard Dawkins... being shrill and offensive again I suppose.
HylandPaddy
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Re: Church And Taxes - how is this in Ireland?

Post by HylandPaddy » Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:30 pm

I'd be weary about a tax on religion, or any grouping or non-private gain orgainsation for that matter. However, I think when Dawkins was setting up the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science he had to jump through many hoops just to get tax-free status. He criticised the policy of the government as he had to demonstrate how science and reason could benefit society whilst religion was automatically assumed to beneficial. So I'd be for making religion registration for non-tax status equally as difficult/easy as it would be for a secular organisation to register.

Also If the religion is anyway subsidised by the state (it shouldn't be, but if it is) then it should be required to pay tax.

EDIT: Just noticed an eggcorn. The third word was meant to be "wary" not "weary". That is all.
Last edited by HylandPaddy on Sun Apr 04, 2010 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
-Carl Sagan
bipedalhumanoid
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Re: Church And Taxes - how is this in Ireland?

Post by bipedalhumanoid » Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:47 am

HylandPaddy wrote:I'd be weary about a tax on religion, or any grouping or non-private gain orgainsation for that matter.
I don't think anyone is suggesting religions or any other organisation should be taxed for charitable works.

If I set up a company that is a commercial business for profit and also conduct charitable works, I have to separate those activities into separate corporate entities and report my financial activity to the government who will make me pay tax on my for profit activities.

I won't be taxed on the charitable works but I will be taxed on the for profit activity.

The catholic church in Ireland neither has to pay tax on its non-charitable profits and nor does it have to report its charitable or non-charitable activities to the government. That's why nobody can answer Noz's question.

The catholic church is the wealtiest land owning entity on the planet and we are all asked to subsidise that wealth both directly through government subsidised religious activity and indirectly by paying the church's share of the national tax burden.

On another note, putting money in the basket at the church must be one of the least efficient methods of raising money for charity imaginable. Sure some of the money goes to charity but some of it goes to pay the salaries of church employees. Some of it goes to pay for the upkeep of the church, some of it goes to pay for the pope's next ivory back scratcher, some of it goes to pay for new churches to be built and then there's the catholic churche's multi-billion euro annual tax-free profit. Do you think a non-religious entity in the same boat would be granted charitable status?
"The fact of your own existence is the most astonishing fact you will ever have to face. Don’t you ever get used to it." - Richard Dawkins... being shrill and offensive again I suppose.
HylandPaddy
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Re: Church And Taxes - how is this in Ireland?

Post by HylandPaddy » Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:30 pm

"...we are all asked to subsidise that wealth both directly through government subsidised religious activity..."
What religious activity does the government subsidise? Is it the education system your talking about?

I also think the church should be treated like any other organisation, i.e. have inspections by the taxman etc.
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
-Carl Sagan
bipedalhumanoid
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Re: Church And Taxes - how is this in Ireland?

Post by bipedalhumanoid » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:02 am

HylandPaddy wrote:"...we are all asked to subsidise that wealth both directly through government subsidised religious activity..."
What religious activity does the government subsidise? Is it the education system your talking about?

I also think the church should be treated like any other organisation, i.e. have inspections by the taxman etc.
Others are probably better placed to answer that question. But off the top of my head I can name education, chaplains in the military & child rape (the indemnity deal).

I think we basically agree.
"The fact of your own existence is the most astonishing fact you will ever have to face. Don’t you ever get used to it." - Richard Dawkins... being shrill and offensive again I suppose.
nozzferrahhtoo
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Re: Church And Taxes - how is this in Ireland?

Post by nozzferrahhtoo » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:51 pm

Alas I knew when I made the post that I was not distinguishing between wondering how it is now and wondering how it should be changed very clearly. The result is people replying saying things like being wary of taxing religion etc.

Before making any decisions on my position on that, I was hoping to find out exactly how it is now, why it is the way it is, how it got that way and what laws it is based on etc etc.

Actually talking about changing it comes later. I can not talk about changing it until I know how it is 

Biped, it is both good and bad to hear you have been working on this at some length already. Good because at least someone out there is doing it and bad because it sounds like you are not being let get anywhere with it.

Where is the best place to start finding out things like this or where has been searched already. Do the church publish anywhere ANY figures on their incoming and outgoing monies in Ireland? How much of it is kept, spend and how much of each of those is done in Ireland or abroad.

Where would one start finding out exactly what laws they are currently using to get such status. Is it definitely charity status or is there more to it than that? Is there even a whole set of tax laws for religion separate from business and charity?

In short, I am entirely ignorant on this subject and was hoping for some pointers and direction in changing that, but short of doing a course on Irish Tax Law I am not sure where to start.
bipedalhumanoid
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Re: Church And Taxes - how is this in Ireland?

Post by bipedalhumanoid » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:36 pm

The charities act was revised last year so that would be a good start I guess.

http://www.attorneygeneral.ie/eAct/2009/a609.pdf

My recollection of the way this was reported in the media was that the biggest change is that charities now have to prove a certain level of 'efficiency' in their reporting which is a positive change IMO.

However, the act has this to say...
Charities Act 2009 wrote: 3.—(1) For the purposes of this Act each of the following shall,
subject to subsection (2), be a charitable purpose:
(a) the prevention or relief of poverty or economic hardship;
(b) the advancement of education;
(c) the advancement of religion;
(d) any other purpose that is of benefit to the community.
(2) A purpose shall not be a charitable purpose unless it is of
public benefit.
And this...
Charities Act 2009 wrote: (4) It shall be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that a gift
for the advancement of religion is of public benefit.
While it would be easy to attach a number to the 'efficiency' at which a charity provides food to the poor or something of that nature, how would you apply the same to 'the advancement of religion'... especially when that latter is 'assumed to be of public benefit'.

I see this as a kind of an out clause for religion and the act is loaded with them. There is another part which suggests that the only person who can make a call, that something related to the advancement of religion is not beneficial to society, is the Attorney General himself.

Section 44 of the constitution (http://www.constitution.ie/reports/Cons ... reland.pdf) details a whole section about religious rights. I'm in no position to interpret the constitution but I'd hazard a guess that this is relavent:
Constitution wrote: 5° Every religious denomination shall have the right to manage its own affairs, own, acquire and administer property, movable and immovable, and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes.
"The fact of your own existence is the most astonishing fact you will ever have to face. Don’t you ever get used to it." - Richard Dawkins... being shrill and offensive again I suppose.
nozzferrahhtoo
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Re: Church And Taxes - how is this in Ireland?

Post by nozzferrahhtoo » Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:02 pm

Thats some good referencin'

The position of churches in Ireland in relation to tax status seems pretty unassailable from what you have printed there.
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