Communist Party wins new allies in quest to see church restitutions taxed
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday approved a controversial Communist Party proposal for Church restitutions to be taxed. Although the bill was only passed in its first reading, support from the parties currently debating a coalition-in-the making has cast doubt on the future of a hard-won settlement between the country’s 16 churches and the State.
Although the Communist Party vehemently protests against the agreement, saying it was overinflated, and pushing for the compensation money to be taxed, until now they were powerless to oppose it.
This changed with the new balance of power in the lower house. The ANO party which won the elections and is striving to form the country’s next government agreed to support the proposal in return for tolerance from the Communists. The bill which would level an 19 percent tax on church restitution money won support in its first reading not only from the Communists and ANO, but also from the Social Democrats, a likely coalition partner in the next government, and the anti-migrant Freedom and Democracy Party which is seeking to push through its policy priorities in return for backing other parties’ proposals.
“Your property is stolen. You receive compensation for it and then get taxed. That is utter nonsense.”
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, whose party enabled the bill to be passed, argued that since the money allotted to churches was a form of income, it should rightly be taxed. He reminded the lower house that he had had serious reservations to it long before the coalition talks.
“I have nothing against Church restitutions, what I see as a problem is that they were overinflated by about 54 billion crowns.”
The bill will now have to pass through two more readings, but the parties which supported it in its first reading will only need to stick to their guns to see it through.
The Catholic Church has already made it clear that if that happens, it will lodge a complaint against it with the Constitutional Court.