INDEPENDENT NEWS

New Zealand's Purple Economy

Published: Thu 6 Dec 2007 01:27 PM
PRESS RELEASE - NZ Association of Rationalists & Humanists
New Zealand's Purple Economy
A new study on tax law and religion in New Zealand and Australia by political sociologist Dr Max Wallace reveals that, in a time when New Zealand is the most secular nation on Earth, religious organizations are still being subsidised indirectly by New Zealand taxpayers.
In his book "The Purple Economy" due to be released this Sunday, Dr Wallace points out that despite plummeting church attendance, churches still pay no income tax, no capital gains tax and little in the way of property taxes or rates.
Dr Wallace said that "tax exemption for religious organisations is a subsidy from government which makes it effectively a tithe on the entire tax-paying population of New Zealand. The antiquated law that allows religious tax privilege in New Zealand originates from 17th century Britain when both the monarchy and church were tax exempt."
Even in the 21st century, New Zealand law does not oblige churches to spend their money on charitable deeds. The only legal requirement is that churches "advance religion". As a result, the taxpayers of New Zealand are subsidising religious proselytization.
Growing numbers of non-religious people in New Zealand mean that tax privileges for religion are discriminatory. Non-religious people must pay tax, they cannot opt out of subsidising the privilege afforded to religious organisations through tax exemptions."
The Purple Economy book launch commences at 5 pm Sunday December 9th at Rationalist House, 64 Symonds Street, Auckland.
ENDS

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