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Should Serbian Orthodox Church pay taxes?

by - Published: at 2:13 pm
Modified: Nov 10, 2013 at 2:13 pm
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BELGRADE – Hundreds of millions of euros could further flow into Republican budget, if the Church would not be exempt from certain taxes – property tax, VAT,…

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Cars parked in front of the Patriarchate during the Parliament of the Serbian Orthodox Church

These benefits, according to the law, are applied only to objects which serve for religious activities, writes “Blic”.

Authorized inspections have never controlled business of any religious community. This is why it is not known how churches settle those obligations they have to in accordance with the law.

Rough estimates, derived from the statements of church dignitaries, indicates that only from VAT on the sale of books and other goods in church stores, as well as profit tax, the Republican budget could be richer for about 10 billion dinars (6.4 million euros/8.5 million dollars).

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Interior of the palace where Bishop Kacavenda used to live

Metropolitan Amfilohije said recently that only this diocese earns about 2 to 2.5 million euros a year. Assuming that each of 16 dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church earns this much, the whole yearly earnings would be about 32 million euros.

When the church, by a chance, would have to pay tax, and thus to worship, which will be the case in Italy in 2014, the gap in the state budget would be even smaller. In Italy the government made a calculation that, because churches do not pay taxes, the state budget is short for about two billion euros yearly.

In the Serbian Government for now nobody even thinks about changing the law, just as in Serbian Orthodox Church does not speak about the idea. In Serbia churches rent some of the objects they own, as well as land. How much money they earn show cars Bishops drive as well as luxurious interiors of Bishops’ palaces.

Serbian Orthodox Church itself has problems with the control of church finances. Church officials too can’t determine whether all dioceses settle “church tax” – four percent of diocesan income that goes into the patriarchal budget.

On a poll done by “Blic” – “Whether Church should pay taxes?” – 83 percent of readers said yes.

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