Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

Tax return and church check box

Like every year, at the end of April, we have the unavoidable obligation to present our tax return to the Hacienda Foral. And like every year, the Catholic Church, following its eternal line, refills with publicity on all sides to check the church's box. Thus, it would receive 0.7% of our taxes, or the other option would be to check the two boxes (the Catholic Churches and the social objectives), because in the latter option it would receive the same 0.7% of our taxes and the same (another 0.7%) would be for social purposes. For this reason, we in the Laikasuna group wish to present to the public our opinion on this issue, that in the tax declaration neither one of the two boxes be marked either for the church or for social purposes. Here are our reasons:

  • The propaganda of the Catholic Church states that you support the social assistance work that the church does by checking its box. A misleading statement, because the use of the EUR 358 million collected by the church through this box are not tasks of charity or related to the cult of the sicario. According to data from the Spanish Episcopal Conference itself, the salaries and social security of priests and bishops represent 80%. Another 20% is destined to finance projects such as 13TV, such as campaigns of ecclesiastical proselytism, against abortion and other rights recognized by Spanish legislation. Caritas is granted approximately EUR 7 million (i.e. 2% of what is collected in the IRPF box). In other words, social assistance is relatively low for work. If we look at the data from Gipuzkoa, we see that those who checked the church check box in 2023, plus those who checked in two boxes, were 56,478 people (14.01% of the payers) and paid the church 3,849,723 euros. As a matter of interest we will say that the people who checked the Catholic Church in 2017 were 22.71%, so in the last six years the percentage has decreased by 8%. In addition, according to the Church-State agreements, this amount is not received by the Gipuzkoan church, but, applying the system of Economic Concert and through quota, it is transferred entirely to the Spanish State for its delivery to the Spanish Church.
Whoever wants to donate his money to the Catholic Church or to a specific NGO or to a social entity, but from his pocket, after paying the corresponding taxes, in addition, without discounting public budgets
  • When we talk about the financing of the Catholic Church, it is essential to mention the agreement signed in 1979 between the Spanish State and the Vatican. It stated that this money paid to the church would be "seasonal" while the church managed to "maintain". 45 years later this convention remains unfulfilled, without demanding compliance with rotating governments. It should not be forgotten that the EUR 358 million received by the church through the IRPF declaration is only a small part of the EUR 11.6 billion received annually as a whole. By way of example, the right not to pay certain taxes, or the maintenance of the 100,000 unregistered goods, is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture, and of all that public money there is no transparency or control.
  • We also request that the Social Objective checkbox should not be checked. 35-40% of what is received goes to entities linked to the Catholic Church. Hence the interest of the Catholic Church in marking the two boxes in its advertising, thus obtaining public money for both. It is true that many people need help. It is also true that there are many volunteers who help to calm the lives of others. In our view, however, public support services will only be managed universally if the public authority is in charge, with budgets appropriate to its needs. Delegating to private institutions or people who depend on their good will is to promote privatization policies and external contracts that open up the charity trade, especially in religions.

Another thing is the nature of private organisations or NGOs dealing with various functions for social purposes, being of general interest, in addition to their resources and donors, to receive public aid under the control of the Administration, which will be economic or managed with total transparency in matters. In 2021, 124,502 people (32% of the total) checked the social destination box and another 28,433 (7.27% of the total) marked X in both boxes, i.e. almost EUR 8 million.

We can only say that whoever wants to give his money to the Catholic Church or to a particular NGO or to a social entity does whatever he wants, but from his pocket, after paying the corresponding taxes, in addition, without removing money from the public budgets of all.

In this sense, we would like to be in the same situation as the inhabitants of the Northern Basque Country, because since 1905 the model in France is the separation between the Church and the State. The Church does not receive state subsidies and depends only on donations from the faithful, without reference to the Church in the tax return.

We believe that the most supportive option is not to check any boxes, because that is the safest way for every tax to remain in everyone’s box and then to distribute it realistically in the real needs that interest everyone. This is the option chosen by the majority of Gipuzkoa payers, in fiscal year 2021 there were 210,160 people, representing 53.72% of the total number of statements presented. For this reason, those who did not check any boxes in 2017 were 17.88%, an increase of 36% in four years.

Finally, to say that Gipuzkoa is the territory of the State that least marks the box of the Catholic Church. Let us go down that road!

Imanol Zubizarreta, member of the Laikasuna collective

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