British Catholics told to love their taxes
The Church in England and Wales yesterday launched a passionate defence of taxes, arguing that instead of an unfair penalty, taxation should be seen as a way all people can play a moral part in public life.
The argument was released in a 40-page booklet titled Taxation for the Common Good.
"Taxes are very much based on the principles of solidarity, which is based on the commandment to love your neighbour," former Bishop Howard Tripp, Chairman of the Church's Committee for Public Life, told Reuters.
"This document is suggesting taxes are a way to play our part and it is something we should be pleased to do...It's all part of our duty to our neighbor, stemming from our duty as social animals," he said.
The Catholic Church, 4.6 million strong in the UK and Northern Ireland, said the booklet was not a party political statement. It makes no specific references to the tax policy of British Chancellor (Finance Minister) Gordon Brown, who has hiked taxes to help fund the country's ailing health service.
While acknowledging that loving your neighbour might be easier than loving taxes, Tripp said the motive behind publishing the booklet was to stimulate public discussion and to place taxation on a moral footing.
He said tax dodgers were not helping themselves or their community:
"If a person felt bound not to pay some tax to a certain cause they disagree with then they must follow their conscience, but I would urge them to look at other ways to deal with that problem, such as lobbying members of parliament."
Love Your Taxes, Says England's Catholic Church (Reuters 23/2/04)
Catholic Bishops: Why we must render unto Caesarů (Press Release from the Catholic Communications Service issued on 18 February 2004)
Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales: Committee for Public Life
Taxes are for 'The Moral Good', Say Bishops (The Scotsman 23/2/04)
The 11 Commandment: Love thy income tax (Independent Online 23/2/04)
[NZ] Churches fall prey to sherry tax (Hawkes Bay Today 23/2/04)
Adequacy, progressivity and compensation key issues in tax reform, says Catholic Justice Group (Australian Catholic Social Justice Council 9/3/99)
Taxation Reform (NetAct -A Project of the Catholic Social Justice Welfare and Educational Agencies)
24 Feb 2004