Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) – Imposing tax on the financial compensation for churches within their property restitution, as hinted at by ANO movement leader Andrej Babis last week, is prevented by the related agreements between the state and churches, Senate Chairman Milan Stech (Czech Social Democrats, CSSD) said on Wednesday.
Stech pointed out that CSSD’s previous efforts to curb the impact of the restitution on the state failed just because of this and that Babis should have known that.
Stech responded to Babis’s claim that it had not been possible to return to the matter within the outgoing coalition cabinet, but it might be possible now.
The tax is called for by the Direct Freedom and Democracy (SPD) and the Communists (KSCM), whose support Babis seeks for his minority cabinet proposal.
The financial compensation for churches’ property which cannot be returned is approximately 60 billion crowns, to be paid over 30 years.
Stech said ANO refused to put the matter of tax on restitution compensation on the programme statement of the outgoing cabinet using the argument that it had not existed when the restitution law was passed.
“It was proven that curbing the costs of church restitutions was not only prevented by the law, which can be amended. The problem lies, however, in the wording of the agreements concluded between the state and the churches. These can be only modified through agreements or by proving certain legal and factual reasons which the relevant court would find substantial. It also applies to taxation and ANO is well aware of this,” Stech said.
“Babis switches his attitude according to what happens to suit him and which ally he wants to impress. He seems to be playing a game for favour with the Communists, even though he knows, too, that valid agreements are hard to change,” Stech added.
Imposing a special tax on the compensation for restitution property might be possible by adopting a new law, even at the price of risking a legal dispute.
Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka has said that the churches would probably turn to the Constitutional Court as well, because it was only possible to impose tax on income, not on compensation.