Tax (Photo credit: 401K)
The church tax in Germany does have a very long historic tradition. The roots are to be found in the middle ages, where peasants had to pay one tenth of everything to their church. Today, the percentage one has to pay is 8% or 9% or your income tax depending on in which federal state you live in.
Germany is not the only European country with such a church tax. Similar taxes can be found in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Sweden and some parts of Switzerland.
One has to pay church tax when you are baptized and officially listed as a Catholic or Protestant. Other “religious groups” or churches are not supported by this system. They depend on donations or official membership fees.
About 70% to 80% of the churches’ budgets consist of their members’ paid church tax. The tax is paid by the employer to the local IRS (which keeps 2% to 4% of the tax for administration) which will then pay the remaining money to the church. The churches also get information about their member from the IRS. So if you move to another city or to another part of the town, the money is given to the church you live nearby.
If you do not want to pay this tax for what ever reasons, you have to officially leave the church. This is similar to being excommunicated by the pope, but the pope has nothing to do in this case. As a catholic or protestant German, you need to go to your local parish or country court and fill out official papers. You have to attend this personally and have to sign. In some federal states you also have to pay a small fee. You are then unregistered and no longer a member of the church. From this day on, you may not marry in a church (unless your partner is still “in the club”), so that is one reason why many young people still stay officially registered although they are technically Atheists.
Taxes (Photo credit: Tax Credits)
If you ask me, paying this tax just having a white dream wedding in a romantic church is one of the phoniest thing one can do.
I quit being Protestant almost 10 years ago and am glad I did it. I am rather officially NOT a member of anything than paying for a membership I do not really support.
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