FROM International Union of Irreligious and Atheists (IBKA) He started the petition a few days ago demanding that the state stop collecting church taxes. FROM hpd publishes the verbatim text of the petition.
The current practice is that tax offices collect membership fees as church taxes on behalf of churches. To do this, each citizen must state in his tax return whether he belongs to a religious community that is entitled to tax collection.
This practice must be completed. The Bundestag may adopt the necessary laws and regulations. Churches and religious communities must take the administration of their members and the levying of dues into their own hands because they are private organizations. Responsibility for membership and withdrawal from a church must rest with the churches themselves, not with district courts or registry offices. Church tax offices, which have their seat at tax offices, are to be liquidated and thus give the impression of government agencies.
Due to their status as “public corporations”, churches are authorized to collect membership fees under the name “taxes”. In fact, church taxes are nothing more than membership fees of non-governmental organizations. Nevertheless, the state acts as a debt collection agency for churches and enforces church taxes as compulsory tributes.
According to the churches, members are not only professing believers, but all who have ever been baptized (whether in France or Italy), even if they do not share the faith and have never declared membership. On the other hand, leaving the church comes at a cost and effort. Government agencies endorse this view by only recognizing church leavers and thus exempting dues from paying dues if reported to a district court or notary. Anyone who cannot prove such confirmation may have to pay additional fees for several years. It will be enforced with the rigor of the law.
That state agencies deal with member administration of churches is completely contrary to the separation of state and churches.
Moreover, the state also obliges employers and banks to provide free collection services to churches by having to charge the church tax and pay it to the recipient. To this end, each dependent employee must inform the employer of his religious affiliation. But it is unconstitutional. Art. 136 sec. 3 of the Weimar Constitution, which is also in force in our Basic Law, says about religious freedom, inter alia: “No one is obliged to reveal his religious beliefs. to the extent that the rights and obligations depend on him… ”. Legal actions against the obligation to notify are also ineffective. In line with a ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court in 1978, it is permissible to limit the fundamental right not to disclose one’s religion for “practical reasons”. It is questionable whether this one-sided, religion-friendly and data-protection-hostile view can be held to this day.
State collection of church tax should be abolished,
- because it makes the state the service provider of the churches,
- because all citizens co-finance government agencies involved in administering church members,
- because it gives the impression of a civic duty,
- because, contrary to the constitution, it requires citizens to disclose their religious affiliation,
- because it obliges companies and banks to collect church fees free of charge and
- because even membership is not properly regulated.
Churches should take charge of membership administration and collect donations. State agencies should neither collect church taxes nor administer exits from the church.