Church tax. It might come as a surprise for many non-Europeans to hear that several countries continue to collect a tax on behalf of officially recognized religious organizations
. In Germany, it is known as Kirchensteuer (literally church tax) and it brings in up to €6 billion in revenue every year. It accounts for somewhere between 8 and 9 percent of income tax. Members of a religious community (for example the Roman Catholic Church) are obliged to pay the tax while people who are not members do not have to pay it. If a Catholic therefore wishes to stop paying the tax, he or she is formally required to declare they are leaving the Catholic to the German authorities.
Considering the fact that church attendances are falling in many European countries, how is the church tax being affected? Pew Research
looked into the issue in several European countries and the outlook appears to be quite positive for religious organizations. In Denmark, 80 percent of the public is still paying the tax while in Germany, that figure is 71 percent. Finland
has the highest share of people who used to pay the tax but stopped at 20 percent, followed by Sweden's 18 percent.