Spain’s 1st Vice-President Carmen Calvo met with the Vatican’s new envoy to Spain Wednesday, telling him that the coalition government led by President Pedro Sánchez will hold the church liable for real-estate taxes on all church-owned property in which liturgical services are not held.
Given his diplomatic credentials by King Felipe VI earlier in the week, the Vatican’s new Apostolic Nuncio in Spain, Archbishop Bernardito Auza of the Philippines, met with Calvo at a time of delicate diplomatic relations between Spain and the Vatican.
Public comments last year by his predecessor, outgoing Nuncio Renzo Fratini, criticizing the Sánchez government’s decision to remove the remains of former dictator Francisco Franco from the Basilica at the Valley of the Fallen monument outside Madrid, prompted the government to send a formal letter of complaint to the Vatican.
In a Wednesday-morning radio interview prior to her meeting with the new Vatican delegate, Calvo said that the Spanish government expects the Catholic church to “meet its fiscal responsibilities exactly the same way it does in France or in Italy”, that is, the only exemption to paying Spain’s IBI (Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles) property tax will be on churches or other properties in which Sunday Mass and other liturgical services are provided to the public.
In addition, Calvo said that the government wants to see greater transparency in church reporting on the expenditures of monies collected from Spanish taxpayers who check a box on their annual IRPF tax returns indicating they wish to donate money to the Catholic church.
According to church financial statements, the Spanish Catholic church took in 268.2 million euros in 2016 and 264.5 million euros in 2017 through the voluntary IRPF donations from Spanish taxpayers. In the radio interview with the national Cadena Ser network, Calvo said that Spain’s new government expects Spanish Catholic church authorities to “administer those funds in line with the objective set down in Spanish law, which is that they must be used for social services and not for anything else”.
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