Church property tax in Jerusalem: no way!

Church leaders in Jerusalem have reacted strongly to paying church property tax.

Churches have been exempt from paying property tax for centuries.

“The civil authorities have always recognised and respected the great contribution of the Christian churches, which invest billions in building schools, hospitals, and homes, many for the elderly and disadvantaged in the Holy Land,” a statement from church leaders says.

They have asked city officials to retract their intention to tax church properties.

They want them to “ensure that the status quo, which was sanctioned by the sacred history, is maintained and the character of the Holy City of Jerusalem is not violated.”

The church leaders believe the taxes would damage a number of benefits Christian churches offer Jerusalem as well as its ability to minister to its communities both in Jerusalem and internationally.

Early this month the Jerusalem municipality issued fines of nearly $190 million to properties owned by the United Nations and churches.

The municipality cited a new legal opinion that found the properties are not legally defined as places of worship.

It has exempted properties that are used “for prayer, for the teaching of religion or for needs arising from that.”

Other church properties must pay property tax.

The Catholic church received the biggest bill of all the religious institutions.

It owes over $3.3 million.


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