Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas approved on Friday an amendment that exempts Mount Athos monasteries from paying any pending property tax.
The amendment, also signed by SYRIZA MPs Panos Skouroliakos, Giorgos Lazaridis and Centrist’s Union MP Giannis Saridis, exempts the monasteries from paying their pending Large Property Tax (FMAP) and the unified property tax on any properties owned inside or outside Mount Athos.
Deputy finance minister Katerina Papanatsiou had reportedly ‘frozen’ the amendment a week ago, seeking to find out what would be the revenue loss for the state. However, the State Treasure had no data about it as there was no charging tax.
Apparently because the monasteries are in the same tax status as the Church.
“So, why the amendment?” one may ask. Maybe some tax office had indeed sent a property tax bill to monasteries … and the rest is usual Greek business.
“There is no accounting system to detail its actual income and no one really knows quite how much land it owns because there is no land register.” independent MP Stefanos Manos said in 2012, when the unified property tax was introduced and the Church and monasteries were exempted. This situation suits both the church and the state, “because politicians are reluctant to upset the Orthodox authorities.” Manos explained the delicate issue in one sentence.
Laws were amended in 2013 and 2014, and in a statement issued in 2015, the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church said that it was indeed paying the Unified Property Tax.
“Main and supplementary Unified Property Tax (EN.F.I.A.) for all properties (Law 4223/2013 and 4286/2014 ). Exempted from ENFIA are only places of worship and charitable areas (eg nursing homes, soup kitchens facilities) that are been used in properties owned by the Church “idiochrisimopoiountai [used for own use]”. This exemption does not apply only to the Church but also to all legally existing places of worship or properties used by non-profit organizations and legal entities (associations, foundations, etc. ) ( Law 4223/2013).”
The amendment about Mt Athos monasteries was included in the Digital ministry’s draft bill on the creation of an e-platform for buying TV ads.
Why the Athos monasteries are exempted? Why the privileged treatment when compared to debt-ridden and indebted Greek citizens.
As everybody knows, Lord works in mysterious ways, especially when it comes to a so-called ‘autonomous polity’ within the Greek republic.
PS A mean Greek asked how did all monasteries, churches and religious institutions acquire all these properties. ‘With God’s help,’ I suppose.