This week another group of clergy have told us we need to give more money to the poor. To do so will require that we take more money from others in tax. So today I have a question for the clergy. Would they like their Churches to pay more tax?
Churches legally avoid large amounts of tax. They receive substantial donations from some of their richer members on death. These gifts are free of Inheritance Tax.
They receive substantial donations from their living members. Much of this money is gift aided, so the Churches receive large sums from the state as repayment of the Income Tax which the donors had paid before their gift.
The Churches, led by the Church of England, have tax free Endowment funds which generate income and capital gains that are untaxed. Some of this money is used for current spending. The Church Commissioners manage a fund worth around £5,500 million.
I personally am quite relaxed about the Churches enjoying large tax privileges. However, I do not think we need to raise taxes generally in order to boost the £220 billion benefit and state pension budget. I think we need to spend it wisely and ensure the help does reach those most in need. Those who do think we need to tax and spend more might like to answer the question who they wish to tax more. The Churches might like to answer the question, why do they pay so little tax, if they think taxes are generally too low?