Italians reduce tax donations to Catholic Church

Italians funding Catholic Church

Italians are choosing to contribute their tax tithes to state charities, in doing so they are reducing funding to the Catholic Church.

Since the 1980s, the main source of revenue for Italy’s Catholic Church has been the “8×1000,” or the “eight per thousand”. This is a share of personal income tax that the state distributes between itself and a charitable entity of the taxpayer’s choosing.

Under the 8×1000, taxpayers may choose one of several approved charitable entities, both religious and secular, to which funds will be allocated, although they are not required to do so.

Of the 75% of Italians who identify as Catholic, about 70% choose the Catholic Church as the recipient of their tax donations.

The Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), which oversees the disbursement of the funds, receives roughly €1.2 billion (NZ$2b) annually from the tax.

For those who make no selection, the funds are divided among the various recipients in proportion to the selections made. This means the bulk of those funds benefit the Italian Catholic Church.

The percentage of taxpayers choosing to pay the 8×1000 to the Church dropped from 31.80% to an all-time low of 29.03% in 2020, a recent report from Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance revealed.

Roberto Grendene, Secretary of the Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) said that the number of people allocating their 8×1000 funds to CEI has fallen below 30% for the first time is likely due to several factors.

One of these factors, Grendene said, is a recently added option allowing taxpayers to allocate their money toward five state causes. These include natural disaster relief, ending world hunger, assistance for refugees and unaccompanied foreign minors, the conservation of cultural heritage, and the maintenance of school buildings.

Speaking to Crux, Vincenzo Corrado, a spokesman for CEI, seemed unworried about the drop in those giving their 8×1000 to the Church. He noted that around 71.1% of those who do make a selection for the 8×1000 still choose to give to CEI.

Corrado said he believes several factors are involved in the drop, “certainly including the pandemic,” and that the reasons likely have nothing to do with CEI or the Catholic Church itself.

“I don’t think it’s simply a rejection of the Church,” he said.



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