Spain’s bishops raise more than 320 million through tax returns box

by Lorraine Williamson
tax returns

MADRID – The percentage of taxpayers who tick the Church box on their tax returns has fallen for the third consecutive year. However, the amount raised has increased. 

Of all taxpayers, 31.29% or more than 8.5 million Spaniards ticked the box for the Church on their tax returns. That resulted in a historic record of €320.72 million for the Catholic Church as the sole beneficiary. This is €25 million more than the previous year. The average contribution is €37.73. 

Fernando Giménez Barriocanal, Vice Secretary for Economic Affairs, presented these preliminary data on Tuesday at the headquarters of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) in Madrid. He stated that this increase would allow the Church to “respond to the increase in social needs in a difficult economic context” that many families are currently experiencing. 

Compensation for the paedophilia scandal? 

The CEE Transparency Office is preparing the 2021 Activity Report, which will provide a breakdown of how the Church spends €320.7 million and “of all the Church’s activities.” When asked if this report would include for the first time the amount paid as compensation for the paedophilia scandal, Giménez Barriocanal replied that no specific amount had yet been set aside for this purpose. 

The number of declarations increased in 14 of 17 regions 

In terms of distribution, the number of declarations increased in 14 of the 17 autonomous regions. The increase is significant in Andalucia, Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha and the Valencia region. In all Spanish provinces, the bishops raised more than the previous year. Ciudad Real, Jaén and Badajoz were at the top in that regard. 

Despite the lower percentage of contributors, Jose Maria Albalad, head of the CEE’s Secretariat of Economy, stressed that the contributors have rewarded the “fruitful work of those who dedicate their lives to others.” 

New website 

Albalad also announced the launch of a new website. On this, the Church will explain the social work that is carried out with the money donated through the tax return. 

The bishops will distribute the total amount received through the tax return among the 70 Spanish dioceses. They do so after assessing the need that exists in each diocese, with a focus on social and pastoral work. They also ensure that the money is properly managed. These preliminary figures have yet to be revised and the final data will be published in May. 

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