The Polish Order has become the object of criticism from the Catholic Church, because the program of the United Right means higher taxes for the clergy. Church authorities are against the inclusion of 9% health insurance for priests and accuse the government of omitting it during consultations. Material of the program “Polska i Świat” on TVN24, prepared by Marta Balukiewicz.
The flagship project of Law and Justice, the Polish Order program, has another, very serious opponent. Not only economists, local governments, entrepreneurs and employers are afraid of the negative effects of tax changes that are part of the program. The Catholic Church is now joining the group of opponents of the new system. A critical opinion in an official letter to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki expressed the chairman of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki.
Polish Order – The Church criticizes changes in taxes
“I regret to state that despite the fact that the above-mentioned project also concerns the legal situation of clergy, neither the Catholic Church nor other religious associations have been included among several dozen entities with which the government conducts public consultations” – wrote Archbishop Gądecki.
Although the main objection raised in the letter by the chairman of the Polish Bishops’ Conference is the lack of consultations with the Church by the legislators, the arguments attached to the letter in the legal opinion sound the strongest. It was prepared by Fr. dr. hab. Piotr Stanisz, professor at the Catholic University of Lublin, commissioned by the Secretariat of the KEP. The opinion reads that “the proposed change will mean that the burden on clergy paying the flat-rate tax will increase significantly.” And this, as the tax expert of the Polish Bishops’ Conference writes, is contrary to the goal of the program.
“The signaled discrepancy is in contradiction with the project promoters’ declarations that the aim of the planned changes is to create a fair tax system in Poland, in which taxes are paid by citizens in accordance with the principles of fair play, in an amount adequate to their capabilities, in the spirit of social justice” – assessed Fr. dr hab. Piotr Stanisz.
Taxes of priests
– Many people took it this way that the clergy are now defending themselves at all costs and defending their own, it should not be like that – comments Fr. Jacek Prusak, Jesuit, theologian. Because tax changes affect everyone, including the faithful. But the Church only criticizes those changes that affect her people.
– Polish priests wake up because it suddenly turns out that they will have to pay taxes, just like any other average citizen – says Krzysztof Śmiszek from the Left. – Even the episcopate criticizes the rulers for the Polish Order – notes Dariusz Joński from the Civic Coalition. Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Tadeusz Kościński, previously indicated at a press conference that “The Polish Order is tax fair play towards the state”.
Church enumerators calculate that priests higher than 9 percent will hit the pockets. health insurance premium calculated on income and a plan to eliminate its tax deduction, which in practice means an increase in the burden by 7.75 percent.
– Today, priests pay such a flat-rate income tax calculated on the size of the parish, while entrepreneurs pay a percentage of what they earn, but nevertheless, priests certainly do not have the right to be satisfied with what the government has prepared for them under the Polish Deal – he explains Maciej Samcik, economic journalist, author of the blog “Subjecttywnie o finansach”.
Krzysztof Śmiszek points out that “a flat-rate tax of PLN 200-300 per month is a mockery compared to, for example, a florist, hairdresser or car mechanic running his small business, who has to pay between PLN 1,500 and PLN 2,000 in tax per month.”
The Polish Deal “hangs by a thread”
For the ruling party, the support of the Church has always been a value. Therefore, this critical voice against the flagship program that PiS was supposed to raise in the polls must be particularly acute. – And I think that it will be a voice that may lead to the fact that the Polish Order hangs by a thread – assesses Śmiszek.
– Of course, all comments should be listened to, I would not interpret it in this way – says Jacek Ozdoba from Solidarna Polska, a member of the PiS Parliamentary Club. Dariusz Joński does not believe that higher taxes will actually affect the clergy. – PiS cooperates with the Church and even if it raises it, it will pay them back elsewhere – believes the deputy KO.
However, a tax expert of the Polish Bishops’ Conference has an idea how to fill a hole in the finances of the church people. He proposes that priests’ health contributions should be at least partially financed from the Church Fund, i.e. de facto from the portfolios of all taxpayers. – The Church has the right to talk about taxes, it also has the right to talk about taxes for its officials, but it has no right to demand reliefs at the expense of others – emphasizes Fr. Jacek Prusak.
The Government Information Center, when asked to comment on the letter from the chairman of the Polish Press Agency, emphasized in the position sent to the Polish Press Agency that the bill was currently in the consultation phase. “Consultations on the draft are ongoing and this letter is part of the position within these consultations. The final shape of the draft is still being developed” – we could read in the CIR statement sent to PAP on Saturday.
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