Chapel in Germany

German ‘Church tax’ income hits record high despite dramatic drop in faithful

Income from Germany’s “Church tax” has hit a record high, with the Catholic Church taking in over 6.6 billion euros from the tax in 2018, and the Evangelical Church almost 5.8 billion.

Driving the news

As katholisch.de reports, the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference published Thursday a Catholic Church in Germany “Facts and Figures” brochure.

In the publication, the Church reports that it received 6.643 billion euros from the Church tax in 2018.

That number is a new record high in income, up from 6.427 billion in 2017, 6.146 billion in 2016 and 6.086 billion in 2015.

The Evangelical Church reported a similar increase in mid-July.

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Its takings for 2018 amounted to 5.79 billion euros, up from 5.671 billion in 2017.

Novena’s coverage of the Church in Germany

The big picture

Millions of people in Germany pay the Church tax (Kirchensteuer), a kind of membership tax that varies between 8% and 9% of taxable income, depending on the state.

The tax is by far the greatest source of revenue for Churches in the country, amounting to about 70% of Church takings.

Go deeper

Experts attributed the latest jump in Church income to the strong German labour market and the associated growth in wages.

But the boom in income is not expected to last long.

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Last month both the Catholic and Evangelical Churches reported a dramatic drop in the number of faithful.

In all 216,078 people left the Catholic Church last year, and 220,000 people left the Evangelical Church.

The trend of Church abandonment is expected to continue, with a May University of Freiburg study predicting that the number of Christians in Germany is expected to halve by 2060, plunging from the current number of 45 million to 35 million in 2035 and 23 million in the next forty years.

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