French High Court confirms 60-percent confiscatory tax measure on religious
While I have no problem with religions paying some tax, I think 60% is an extremely high rate to have to pay........I would think something along the lines of 20% would suffice.
I THINK THAT NO RELIGION OR CULT SHOULD BE TOTALLY TAX FREE. NOR SHOULD THEY RECIEVE FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM THE GOVERNMENT.
IF THEY ARE, WE THE TAX PAYER, ARE FUNDING ORGANIZATIONS WE MAY DESPISE AND THOSE WHO ARE NOT A GENUINE CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION.
IF THEY ACTUALLY DO CHARITABLE WORK, TODAY IN THE HERE AND NOW, SUCH AS FOOD AND SHELTER AND CLOTHING FOR THE DESTITUTE.
THEN IF THEY PROVE IT "LIKE US TAX PAYERS HAVE TO DO" THEN THEY WOULD DESERVE ASSISTANCE FROM THE GOVERNMENT. IN ONE FORM OR THE OTHER.
BASED ON THEIR PROVEN GOOD WORKS.
IF A CHURCH CAN NOT GET ENOUGH MONEY FROM THEIR OWN MEMBERS TO SUPPORT THE CHURCH, THERE MUST BE SOMETHING WRONG OR MISSING FROM THE CHURCH SERVICE TO ITS MEMBERS.
I have mixed feelings on this one:
On the one hand, regardless of whether I think 60% tax is reasonable or not, I think it is unfair to apply taxes in a way that appears to be discriminatory of religious denomination (all things being equal in terms of operating as a not for profit group).
On the other hand, less money for the cult will hopefully translate into less lives ruined and destroyed by this cult.
Aside from all of this and totally seperate from the news article, I still question whether or not the JWs are not for profit. I do not think the French Court even scrutinized this issue. It looks like they simply took for granted the numbers on paper provided to them by the JWs which indicated no profit. Does any legitimate independant accounting firm like KPMG audit them? Does any independant accounting firm truely analyze and verify their claimed expenditures to see that money isn't surreptitiously being diverted into "anonymous" bank accounts? I have never seen a religious cult NOT steal money from their flock and I doubt I ever will.
It looks like they simply took for granted the numbers on paper provided to them by the JWs which indicated no profit. Does any legitimate independant accounting firm like KPMG audit them?
Yes, they are audited by professional external auditors.
Being a non-profit organization does not mean that you do not make a profit. It means that profits are not paid to owners, but rather, remain in the organization. The government will examine their financial returns and will expect them to not build up excessive amounts of capital. So, as long as most of their assets are invested in buildings, equipment, and other assets, and their cash reserves do not exceed a reasonable amount (possibly one year's gross receipts), they are fine. In fact, they can easily exceed these guidelines as long as they can demonstrate the need to build larger reserves. Also, bear in mind that "reasonable" assets are determined in relation to the other organizations of their type. So, although they are rich by our standards, by the standard of the Catholic church, they are not out of line.
Yes, they are audited by professional external auditors.
I guess this is why they have the annual meeting in Jersey City, where an elite bunch are personally picked through an invitation.
Figures are talked about for 15-30 mins.
I think the basic reasoning behind the distinction here (Watchtower/mainstream religions) is this:
How do the activities of Jws benefit French society?
Do they run charities, or do they encourage their members to donate?
Do they encourage people to take active part in social life (e.g. by voting)?
Do they teach people to love their country and defend it if need be (whatever that means for every individual citizen)?
Do the WT officials set a good example for their members as far as paying taxes is concerned :)? Do they haveany anti-social doctrines and policies (blood issues, shunning, politics=satan)?
I'm only guessing like everyone else so far on this thread, and I still think 60% tax is an extreme measure. It would be nice if Narkissos gave us some background on this issue.
Unfortunately I have no first-hand knowledge of the case (which is not new btw, it has already been discussed a number of times on JWD and other sites; yesterday was just the last appeal judgement, and I haven't found any French source of information about this specific development thus far).
My provisional guess is that the French Branch of the WT is paying the high price for its past opaque financing systems: for decades they obviously had industrial and commercial activities (literature, audio and video production and distribution), and at least some of their income was in (disguised) payment for it (with invoicing procedure and all), and so was logically subject to taxes, but they declared everything as "donations". The fiscal administration did not swallow that, and imho it was quite right.
I might get some fresh information from the fiscal administration in the next few days. I'll let you know.
Thanks for this quick reply. Now, at least one of the reasons I've suggested seems to make sense.: ("Do the WT officials set a good example for their members as far as paying taxes is concerned :))?
:: I might get some fresh information from the fiscal administration in the next few days. I'll let you know.
Don't feel obliged, but if you happen to find out anything it'd be nice to let us know. Thanks again.
JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES TOLD TO PAY TAXES
VERSAILLES -- The Jehovah's Witnesses organization in France must pay taxes on donations its members gathered in the street between 1993 and 1996, an appeals court decided Wednesday, in a ruling expected to cost the group over 45 million euros, or $39 million.
The verdict, which upholds a lower court's judgment, requires the group to pay 23 million euros in taxes on the 38 million euros it collected over that period, plus another 22.4 million euros in penalties and interest. The judges ruled that the Jehovah's Witnesses, who are classified as a sect and not a religion in France, are not eligible for tax exemption.
France demands $300M francs from Watchtower
for back taxes 7/7/00
original news item:
Alta Vista English translation:
NANTERRE, 4 juil (AFP) - the first civil room of the County Court of Nanterre (the Top-of-Seine) confirmed, Tuesday, the payment of back taxes of 300 million francs inflicted to the Witnesses of Jéhovah in the accordance with the tax on the manual gifts received by association over 3 years. Association the Witnesses of Jéhovah, whose seat is in Boulogne-Billancourt (the Top-of-Seine), announced at the time of a press conference which it intended to make call of this judgement. For 2 years, the tax authorities have claimed with association approximately 150 MF in the accordance with the recovery of taxation on manual gifts received during 3 years, and a little more than 147 MF in the accordance of the penalties and the post maturity interest. For the tax department, the manual gifts received by the Witnesses of Jéhovah between 1993 and 1996 must be taxed to 60% with the glance with the general code with the taxes. Conversely, the Witnesses of Jéhovah, who tackled this rectification in front of the TGI of Nanterre, consider that " the manual gifts can be made freely with any declared association ". Moreover, they estimate that their association must be given tax exemption since it " answers the definition of work or organization of general interest and that of cultuelle association ". On this point, the civil judge estimates that the Witnesses of Jéhovah did not bring the proof that their association " obtained a ministerial or prefectoral authorization to receive exonerated manual gifts of transfer taxes on a purely free basis or to be recognized by decree like religious congregation ". " In this business, the tax authorities make a confusion between a legacy and a manual gift. The gift is the means by which the majority of associations law 1901 are financed. If all were to be taxed to 60%, would be the end of the associative world ", estimated Jean-Claude Pons, spokesman of the Witnesses of Jéhovah. Moreover, it added that if the Witnesses of Jéhovah were to pay the sum which is claimed to them, it would be " the end of our congregation ".
In another conflict opposing association to the tax department, the Witnesses of Jéhovah profited at the end of June from a stop of the Council of State recognizing the character cultuel of two local associations representing the movement in Nievre and Puy of dome. The high jurisdiction indeed estimated that these two entities could be given an exemption of the land tax for their places of worship.
Jehovah's Witnesses in France
France has ruled that the Jehovah's Witnesses faith is not a religion and thus it owes $50 million in back taxes. The French Tax Authority ruled the Witnesses ineligible for a church exemption and gave the group a 60% tax rate, which amounts to $25 million, which was doubled by penalties and interest. A lien was put on all Jehovah's Witnesses property in France. ...The group has been criticized in recent years by anti-sect organizations. It has 220,000 members in France and has done mission work since 1900. ..."Their intent seems to be to break us financially and stop our work in France," said Judah Schroeder of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, based in New York. The tax decision was made in May after an audit of donations. Religious freedom advocates from the Witnesses and other groups in 15 European nations planned to meet in Paris to appeal the action and warn against a trend they say threatens minority religions. ...The Jehovah's Witnesses claims 15 million members, mostly outside North America and Europe. Members believe in the imminent return of Christ and are active proselytizers. They withhold allegiance from all earthly authorities, and become conscientious objectors from military service. Many went to Nazi death camps in Germany for not joining Hitler's army. Others were deported from Nazi-occupied France.
(For reference, you can examine a Report on Cults presented to the National Assembly of France by clicking here.)
See, all you have to do is look it up in the archives of www.watchtowernews.org and use "find" feature with searchword "France."