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Prague archbishop rejects taxation of returned property

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Prague, Jan 11 (CTK) – The taxation of the financial compensation to churches for the property not released to them within the restitution process is impossible from the legal viewpoint, Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka told journalists on Thursday.

Duka pointed out the agreements relating to the “restitution law,” signed by the state and churches.

“There is also the question of the commitment of the claim signed by our state,” Duka said.

The government will support the Communists’ (KSCM) bill on the taxation of the financial compensation for churches within their property restitution since a certain correction of the process is needed, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) said on Wednesday.

The KSCM says in its report justifying the bill that by the taxation of the churches’ compensation, the state would annually get some 380 million crowns from about two billion it sends to the churches in compensation a year. This would amount to some 11 billion crowns in total, the Communists said, adding that this is the only way to make the financial compensation proportionate.

Duka said it was being forgotten that as churches were becoming financially independent, they pay the taxes from the yields of their property.

“Previously, when we were financed by the state, the taxes paid for the employees were from the state coffers. Now they are going to be paid from our own coffers,” he added.

Duka said if the relevant legislation were passed, such a chaos would occur that someone would have to turn to the Constitutional Court even before churches did so.

He said he personally was not afraid.

“I know that this will continue in the legal way,” Duka added.

According to the restitution law from 2012, churches are returned land and real estate worth 75 billion, confiscated from them by the communists, and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. Simultaneously, the state gradually ceases financing churches.

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