It is a known fact that several Filipinos in Austria have “abandoned their religion” to avoid paying Kirchenbeitrag or church tax. Though these “kababayans” are no longer officially members of the Roman Catholic church, they are still practicing their faith. The primary reason why they leave the church is to evade tax.
A priest who doesn’t want to be identified contends that “abandoning one’s religion is a way out for those who don’t want more deductions from their income.
Austrian Press wants to answer some crucial questions about the “Kirchenbeitrag.”
When is one required to pay “church tax”? What is the maximum amount that can be required? What happens if I don’t pay? After leaving the church, can I rejoin later, for example, to get married in church? Here are some essential points to know why we are paying taxes to the church.
1) Which data is known or do I have to provide?
The Church only receives the registration data of its members from the authorities: name, date of birth, address. Everything else that is necessary or helpful for the calculation of the church contribution, we learn only from the persons concerned: the amount of income and existing financial burdens. According to the church contribution regulations, the faithful must provide the necessary documents. In practice, we ask for essential information to find suitable solutions.
2) What about data protection at the church contribution office? Will my data be passed on?
Data protection is a top priority for us. All legal requirements are observed. The data is treated confidentially and may only be used for calculating and collecting the church contribution.
3) Under what conditions may the church contribution service demand money from me?
If you are Roman Catholic, of legal age, and have a primary residence in an Austrian diocese, you are “liable to contribute.” The basis for the contribution is income.
4) What services can you expect for the money?
Similar to taxes, the church contribution is a solidary tax. This means that you do not pay for a service you receive, but that your contribution makes it possible for others to receive services they need or cannot afford: Homeless people, single mothers and fathers, children and young people … Many services also benefit the general public, such as the maintenance of historically valuable buildings. The church’s contribution makes possible the many tasks that the church performs in our country: religious, cultural, and social. Of course, the contributors also have many offers and services at their disposal: various celebrations in the parish such as baptism, wedding, first communion, confirmation, pastoral care in crises or the hospital, free visits to beautiful church buildings, for example also,,, within the framework of the Long Night of the Churches, etc.
5) When am I exempt from “church tax” or have to pay less?
There are reductions in financial burdens. Exempt are people without an income and special groups such as military and civilian servants, apprentices, the unemployed, or mothers and fathers on maternity leave.
6) Does the Church Contribution Office cooperate with other services that it learns about when someone has started working, for example?
No. The church only gets this information from the specific church taxpayer.
7) Do you have access to the registration register?
As regulated by the Meldegesetz (§20), the church receives the registration data of Roman Catholics in their area.
8) What happens if I refuse to pay?
It is similar to not paying your electricity bill. At first, nothing happens. But putting the issue “on the back burner” can become a problem because the payment accumulates. The most important thing is to contact the church contribution office. In most cases, a solution can be found through discussion.
9) Is leaving the church final, or is it possible to change one’s mind later, for example, because one would like to marry in church?
Leaving the church is a separation from the community of the church. Anyone who decides to do so can no longer call themselves a church member and therefore can no longer be a godparent or confirmation sponsor, for example. A church wedding is only possible under certain circumstances. However, the doors of the church are always open for a return. More information on this can be found here.
10) What is the highest contribution that can be required, and under what circumstances is it due?
The church contribution is 1.1% of taxable income. The higher the income, the higher the contribution.
hp with reports from kirchenbeitrag.at/picture: hp
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