National    PRIESTS' STIPENDS COULD BE SLUGGED 48.5% UNDER GST
Under current legislation, diocesan priests who do not register themselves as businesses will have 48.5% GST deducted from their already meagre stipends.
   The Australian Financial Review reports that because legal precedent has ruled that priests are not employees, 48.5% of their stipend must be deducted if they cannot quote an Australian Business Number.
   Spokespersons for both the Catholic Church and the Australian Tax Office have confirmed that clergy stipends would be affected.
   But the Tax Office has undertaken to fix the anomaly. "It's a question of how ministers of religion fit into the ABN law. If they don't fit, we will work out a solution," the spokesman said.
   Last year, the former Anglican chaplain of Bathurst jail tried to sue his bishop for unfair dismissal when he was removed from his position. But the court ruled that the relationship between the priest and his bishop was not that of employee-employer, but 'a consensual compact...based on spiritual and religious ideas'.
   - Fin Review (print edition)
3/5/00

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