South Korean Protestants not happy with church tax plan
When it was announced in June 2017 that South Korea planned to start taxing churches and religious organisations conservative Protestant congregations such as the Christian Council of Korea suggested that it should be up to churches to decide whether or not they should pay taxes.
However, it was reported yesterday (Tuesday) that Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon, above, said that the government will press ahead with plans to impose religious taxes beginning next year.
The government will implement a revision to the tax code that will enable the National Tax Service to levy income taxes of between six and 38 percent on churches, temples and other religious bodies beginning next year.
Kim said he will meet with leaders of religious groups to minimise confusion and ensure fair taxation, but some religious groups are against the government’s move, saying that it would only cause confusion and conflict.
The Communion of Churches in Korea (CCIK) said in a press statement:
We express concern as there is a lack of preparation from the tax authority, and this could cause side effects and confusion.
Last week, the CCIK welcomed the move by some lawmakers led by Representative Kim Jin-pyo of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) to postpone the implementation of the controversial taxation scheme for another two years because he said the National Tax Service is not ready for it.
The issue of taxation first came up in 1968 when then NTS chief Lee Nak-sun officially said the country needed to start collecting income taxes from priests and monks, and South Koreans don’t want the taxation plan to be delayed any longer. Ninety percent of those surveyed saying that the country should levy taxes on priests and monks mainly because Korea is a rapidly aging society facing a shortage of capital resources to finance its growing social costs.
However, some in religious communities support the scheme. The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) said that clergy have to not only serve God, but must also must carry out their social duties by paying taxes.