Pinoy Catholics abroad hide faith to evade Church tax

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MANILA, March 9, 2014— In countries like Germany and Austria, Filipino Catholics are forced to abandon their religion to avoid paying “Church tax” through their income tax, a priest said. 

Msgr. Joselito Asis, former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines secretary general, said it is a way out for those who don’t want more deductions from their hard-earned income. 

“It’s in their Constitution that there is religious tax. So, Germany and Austria, having religious tax force people to declare having no religion so they can evade religious tax,” Asis said. 

“I said it is about 10 or 8 percent. Imagine, for the sake of avoiding paying for religious tax, you abandon your religion. It’s sad,” he said. 

Asis clarified that in the said countries, church tax is not only limited to the Catholic Church but also in other religious denominations. 

Germany and Austria normally inform the dioceses in the Philippines when Filipino Catholics there have left the Church. 

“The process is the Church will have to inform the place of your baptism that this person has abandoned the Catholic faith and then it will be noted in their baptismal (certificate),” he said. 

Asis, however, said that many of these Filipinos who “abandoned” their religion are “resuming” their faith upon their return to the Philippines. 

“Actually, when these people go back to the Philippines, they again practice their religion. That’s how we know that they only did it to evade tax there,” he noted. 

Records show that there are about 19,000 Filipinos in Germany and 30,000 in Austria. (CBCPNews) 

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