Church members in Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria have to pay eight percent of their income tax, the rest of the country nine percent, to God’s representative on earth.
Church tax 2022 Advantages and disadvantages of leaving the church – and what it costs
Dusseldorf The Catholic and Protestant churches together collected 12.08 billion euros in taxes in 2020. This is shown by the latest figures for the Protestant church in Germany.
At the same time, more and more people are leaving the church. On average, 300.000 people leave the church each year and thus save on taxes, according to a survey by the Institute of the German Economy (IW).
Waves of resignations are caused by scandals in the Catholic Church that come to light again and again. For example, it recently became known that the Catholic Church in the diocese of Munich is alleged to have covered up hundreds of cases of abuse over the years. In the process, an expert opinion weighs on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Misconduct in dealing with four cases of sexual abuse during his time as archbishop an.
In total, since the 1950s, the Catholic Church is said to have lost an extra 216.000 children and young people have become victims of sexual abuse. Including the facilities operated by the church would of 330.000 victims have gone out, the Independent Commission on Abuse in the Church (CIASE) announced.
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In Germany, the Catholic Church sees increased recognition payments of up to 50 for abuse victims since the beginning of 2021.000 euros before. Previous payments averaged 5,000 euros per person.
Many believers suffer from the incidents. They have lost trust. They decide not to continue supporting the institution with church tax through their salary, and resign.
Each year, the faithful pay several hundred euros to the church associations. Exactly how much depends on the federal state. In Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria, eight percent of wage and income tax is paid by the church, while the rest of the republic pays nine percent to God’s representative on earth. With an average income of 37.000 euros gross, that would be 449 euros per year.
In our gross-net calculator you can calculate your individual amount. The church tax or the church fee can be deducted as a special expense in the tax return.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of leaving the church??
Many people in Germany are only members of the church for traditional reasons and describe themselves as unbelievers. Leaving the church has mainly financial advantages. If you leave, you are no longer entitled to church "services" such as a marriage ceremony at the altar.
We have summarized the arguments for or against leaving the church.
Advantage 1: Tax savings
Probably the most important reason for leaving the church is the money saved. Members of the Catholic Church pay an average of 291 euros, while Protestants pay 278 euros a year, according to IW calculations. This means that the average amount is almost twice as high as in 2004. In Germany, it is stipulated by law which denominations are allowed to levy church taxes. This includes Christian and Jewish congregations, as well as some Free Religious congregations and the Unitarian Religious Fellowship of Free Protestants.
Advantage 2: Responsibility
Statistics show that the abuse scandal in early 2010 and the scandal surrounding the double-digit million-dollar fraud in Limburg in 2013, where Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst built a luxury apartment at the church’s expense, have led to numerous resignations from the Catholic Church. Believers no longer wanted to support the activities of the church with their money. For members’ influence is very limited outside their local congregations.
Advantage 3: No religious instruction
School-age children without religious affiliation can be exempted from religious instruction at school. This is to prevent people of other faiths from being confronted with a worldview that they and their parents do not share. From the age of 14, people in Germany are considered to be of religious age.
Disadvantage 1: The bureaucratic burden
Those who want to leave the church in Germany have to go to the office. Depending on the federal state, you must make an appointment either at the registry office, residents’ registration office or at the local court. There you have to fill out a form and pay a processing fee. Depending on the federal state, it is free, such as in Bremen, or costs between ten euros and 60 euros.
Disadvantage 2: No job opportunities with church agencies
Doctors, nurses, educators and social workers face the question of leaving the church. Because they could reduce their job opportunities. The reason is that their employers are often bound to the church and require membership.
Disadvantage 3: Exclusion from church ceremonies
The church accompanies important events in a person’s life: baptism, marriage in front of the altar and the funeral mass. People who have left the church either have to pay money for these ceremonies or do without them altogether. Whereby there are now also secular alternatives for all events.
What you need to consider when leaving the church
Once you have weighed all the pros and cons and want to leave the church, you must first find out which institution in your city is responsible for deregistration from the church. You must make an appointment there and appear in person.
It is best to take a valid identity card or passport with you. Married or divorced people must also present the family book. Once the formalities have been completed, the authorities will inform the tax office of your resignation. By the first of the following month, leaving the church should be legally valid and you should no longer pay church tax.