In September, the Government and the Episcopal Conference will finally begin to address the new model of taxation of the Spanish Church. With the opinion of the Court of Accounts in the hands, which recommends to the State a greater control of the finances of the clergy, the department directed by Carmen Calvo also wants that in the negotiation between the controversial issue of registration fees.
The Government sets for September the beginning of a new tax system for the Catholic Church
Although the official list commissioned, in Rajoy’s time, to the Official College of Registrars has not yet been made public, the number of assets placed in the name of the Church between 1998 and 2015 by virtue of the so-called ‘Aznar law’ would reach 35,000 properties , between churches, rectory houses, garages, pediments, meadows and squares.
Some, as relevant as the Mosque of Córdoba, the Cathedral of Burgos or the Giralda of Seville. From what little is known (the Government has not yet decided to make the final list public, despite the fact that the Council for Transparency and Good Governance indicated so a year and a half ago) is that a little more than half of the assets Some 18,500 correspond to temples and parochial dependencies, while another 15,000 are varied estates, where any property not dedicated to worship enters.
In this sense, the state coordinator Recuperando, which includes a score of patrimonial groups in defense of the popular recovery of the assets alienated by the Church with the only signature of the bishop (who, according to the law, acted as if a notary were treated) has shown his fear at the possibility that the Government is using the issue of registration fees to negotiate a new fiscal model for the Church. This is: not to sue for unregistered assets in exchange for the Church accepting modifications in its tax exemptions, especially regarding the payment of IBI, from which the bishops are exempt.
“A false start”
“We fear that the central government is secretly negotiating with the Church a false exit to the real estate scandal of registration,” they denounce from Recuperando, who demand “a global solution of a legislative nature” to the “scandal of the more than 100,000 properties unregistered since 1946, under the protection of a legal subterfuge that allowed the Church to register real estate in its name without providing written property titles “.
From the platforms for the recovery of unregistered assets, they fear that the bishops will become entangled in thousands of lawsuits, which could block the Spanish legal system, and for which neither individuals nor municipalities are prepared. “We will not accept that the executive of Pedro Sánchez leave eventual legal claims in the hands of local administrations and individuals once the list of the appropriate assets by the bishops is made public,” they emphasize from Recuperando.
“All registrations are null and void”, they add, warning that “resolving the matter individually in the courts (as the Church claims) would be unfeasible due to its high cost and the monumental administrative mess that it would entail.” That option, argues the group, “would de facto represent the registration amnesty of almost all unregistered properties.”
“A global solution”
“Thousands of monuments, such as the Mosque of Córdoba, the Giralda of Seville, the Mudejar treasure of Aragón, or the Asturian pre-Romanesque have been privatized by the Catholic Church taking advantage of a legal vacuum and a legal subterfuge,” they lament from Recuperando, who urge Moncloa to “defend the valuable historical legacy appropriated by the Church, which is also rehabilitated and sustained with large public funds.”
The recent examples of Catalonia and Valencia, which have begun to make a move to claim the unregistered assets of the Church in their territories, are a path that patrimonial associations see with good eyes. Thus, Recuperando is working on a concrete proposal to provide a “global solution to the non-enrollment absurdity”, which it will present publicly in the coming days.
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