Being a charity means it must be struggling for cash, right?
Ireland’s bishops won’t have to pay the controversial household charge that has hit every homeowner in the pocket.
The Mail on Sunday has revealed that the Catholic Church will not pay a penny in household charges.
The Church, widely acknowledged as the biggest property owner in the Irish State, will escape the €100 charge according to the report.
With up to 10,000 properties on its books, the Church will save a small fortune on charges.
The report states that the Catholic Church has an exemption from all property taxes because it is a charity.
All parochial houses and even Bishop’s palaces are exempt under the ruling.
The government could lose over €1million in revenue with the charge expected to hit $500 next year.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Ireland told the paper that all properties held by it in Ireland are “effectively exempt.”
The spokesman said: “The Local Government Household Charge Act 2011 provides for exemptions from payment of the household charge to certain charities.
“To date, charities who have obtained a charity number (CHY) are exempt from payment of taxes. Church property in the majority of Irish dioceses is held in a diocesan trust, has a CHY number and is regarded as a charity.
“Where it is held under another structure the title holders clearly hold the property in trust for the diocese and the property has the same status.
“All Church property – which includes churches, schools and priests’ houses – are the property of parishes and dioceses. As such, they are exempt from tax.”
The Church has sought clarification on the issue after the Italian government reversed a similar ruling.
The spokesman added: “The Irish Bishops’ Conference established a Diocesan Advisory Committee some years ago to help prepare for the introduction of the Charities Act 2009.
“In the context of the household charge, the bishops’ committee has sought clarification on this matter. There has been no official reply to date.”
Religious orders have sold land worth €667m over the past 10 years but are still regarded as the country’s second largest landlord, with only the State itself owning more property around the country.
Ten years ago, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern signed a controversial deal with the Catholic Church that indemnified it from compensation claims from clerical abuse victims.
In exchange the Church agreed to hand over land and property to the State worth an estimated €80m before the property crash.