Italy plans to tax Catholic Church's commercial property

Over many decades, the Italian government has quietly passed laws that benefit the Roman Catholic Church, but it is rare for it to issue a public statement announcing that it intends to strip the church of the tax privileges.

The government of Prime Minister Mario Monti took that step Wednesday, telling the European Commission that it would change Italian law to ensure that the Church pays property tax on the parts of its buildings used for commercial ends.

The Church owns vast amounts of property in Italy, and the move is aimed at making sure that convents that offer bed-and-breakfast services or Church buildings that rent space to shops pay their share of taxes.

The change, once it is formally drafted and approved by Parliament, could result in revenues of US$650-M to US$2.6-B annually, according to municipal government associations. It could also set an example for other European countries that are struggling with debt, like Greece and Spain, and where there is growing popular resentment over tax breaks for the Church.

The proposal shows how Mr. Monti, a churchgoer himself, is able to read the national mood. Facing higher taxes and their own belt-tightening, Italians are fed up with what they see as unfair privileges, be it of the political class or the Church. After austerity measures were passed in December, 130,000 people signed an online petition calling on the government to revoke the church's tax-exempt status.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr. writes and publishes The Red Roadmaster's Technical Report on the US Major Market Indices, a weekly, highly-regarded financial market letter, read by opinion makers, business leaders and organizations around the world.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr has studied the global financial and stock markets since 1984, following a successful business career that included investment banking, and market and business analysis. He is a specialist in equities/commodities, and an accomplished chart reader who advises technicians with regard to Major Indices Resistance/Support Levels. www.livetradingnews.com