Haven – Chancellor Ethan Ringrose today confirmed to reporters that he has instructed his government to review the tax-status for “large religious organisations” with a view to making them liable for some tax. The move, which is believed to target primarily the Church of Sanctaria, comes after years of a stand-off between the religion’s leadership and government officials on the issue of not paying tax under the guise of being a charity, but continuing to preach and behave in a manner that many saw as discriminatory.
Expanding on his comments, Ringrose said that “there are a number of billion-pound religious organisations in the world that have a presence in Sanctaria. While we accept that many of them do charitable works, we also have to recognise that between land-holdings, mining and fishing licences, admission fees, donations, sales of artworks and property, the income they have that is wholly untaxed just isn’t sustainable. As part of our election manifesto, and our coalition agreement with the Green Party, we pledged everyone would pay their fair share. This is the logical next step – reviewing current arrangements and seeing how we might make them more equitable.”
The Church of Sanctaria remains the largest landholder in Sanctaria, even 49 years after the fall of the Papal States. Many government buildings, schools, and hospitals are on Church-owned land, meaning the government alone pays hundreds of millions of pounds in rent to the Church every year, all of which is untaxed. Ringrose today said that he hoped “the Treasury Secretary would find a way where religious organisations can retain tax-free allowances on income from donations or admission fees, but where multi-million pound sales of artworks are concerned, for example, we think it’d only be right for some of that income to be taxed.”
It is believed that Ringrose and Vice Chancellor and Infrastructure Secretary Josephine Chari-Jones want the exchequer income used from taxing the Church and other large religions to help pay for the proposed free transport initiative across Sanctaria, which at a conservative estimate may easily run into the very high billions. It’s not yet known what rate Ringrose and Treasury Secretary Ben Jackson would be looking at, but it is known they believe multi-millionaires and billionaires, whether they be private individuals or corporate holdings, should be paying a much higher percentage of tax than working and middle class workers. Sources in the government have suggested some form of adjusted corporation tax would be used for organisations, including religious ones, that bring in over S£150m a year, likely to be around 30-33%, slightly higher than the current standard corporation tax of 27%.
The Church of Sanctaria has not yet responded to the suggestion that they should pay some tax, with queries to their press office and finance department going unanswered.
OLIVIA SIMMONS, Financial Affairs Correspondent