ROM – Since the 1980s, the main source of income for the Italian Catholic Church has been the so-called “8 × 1000” or “eight per thousand” which means that the state distributes a share of everyone’s personal income tax to themselves and a charity at the discretion of the taxpayer.
Under 8 × 1000, taxpayers can choose one of several recognized charities, both religious and secular, to receive funds when they are not required to.
Since about 75 percent of Italians are Catholics, about 70 percent of those who make a choice choose the Catholic Church as the recipient of their funds, which are administered by the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI).
For those who do not make a selection, the 8 × 1000 funds will be divided among the various beneficiaries in proportion to the selections made, which means that the majority of these funds will go to the Italian Catholic Church, which has around one billion euros available annually represents that CEI allocates for a variety of charitable initiatives, as well as administration and overhead expenses.
Over the years, the Italian Court of Auditors has found that, given a significant cut in public spending, monies dedicated to religions below 8 × 1000 are the only monies that have either stayed constant or increased, giving the Catholic Church in particular a stable cash flow .
According to the law, the money received from the 8 × 1000 must be used “for the worship of the population, the support of the clergy, charitable interventions for the benefit of the national community or the countries of the Third World”.
CEI publishes an annual report that summarizes its expenditure and gives an insight into the distribution of its funds across several main categories, but without going into detail about which projects have benefited and what expenditure has been made for these initiatives.
Despite the large sums that the CEI collects every year, the amount of 8 × 1000 for the Catholic Church has been steadily declining for years and fell to an all-time low of 31.80 percent to 29.03 percent in 2020, according to a recent one Report of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance.
In a press release issued last week by the Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) celebrating the decline, UAAR Secretary Roberto Grendene said the number of people allocating their 8 × 1000 funds to CEI Has dropped below 30 percent the first time is likely due to several factors.
One of those factors, he said, is likely a new, recently added option that will allow taxpayers to use their money for five government purposes, including natural disaster relief, ending world hunger, helping refugees and unaccompanied foreign minors, preserving cultural heritage and the maintenance of school buildings.
The ability to support public school buildings could have made a difference in and of itself, Grendene said, noting that “many citizens see public schools as a value that needs to be defended and could have lifted the limitation to public buildings “. Doubts about possible diversions to the coffers and the assets of the curia. “
The public school tax money increase and the other four options “came in spite of the fact that the government and the (Department of Economy and Finance) are not running a serious publicity campaign in favor of the state target,” he said.
In fact, the increase in those who use their tax revenues for the benefit of the state has risen from around 16.5 to 22.6 percent and amounts to around 70 million euros.
Grendene lamented the fact that there had been no public announcement or acknowledgment of “the good news that taxpayers trusted the state in their 2020 statements to call for it to do even better in 2021”.
Grendene deplored the provision in Italian tax law that allows those who do not make a selection for the 8 × 1000 to be allocated based on the decisions made, largely to the benefit of the Catholic Church, Grendene said that this rule does not exist “Much more important would be the amount that the state would have made available. “
Speaking to Crux, Vincenzo Corrado, a spokesman for CEI, seemed unconcerned about the decline in the number of those giving the Church their 8 × 1000 CEI.
Corrado said he believes several factors are involved in the decline, “certainly including the pandemic,” and that the reasons are unlikely to have anything to do with the CEI or the Catholic Church itself.
“I don’t think it’s simply a rejection of the Church,” he said.
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