Berlin, February 3, 2015
According to the Idea agency’s report, in 2014 the number of people who left the Evangelical Church in Germany increased. According to the preliminary estimates, approximately 200,000 people have already announced they are leaving the Church. This is the largest number since 1997 when 196,600 people left the Evangelical Church.
It is quite easy in Germany to stop your membership in the Church. Pointers on automatic machines installed in the local court (Amtsgericht) of Cologne indicate which button one should press in order to leave the Catholic or Evangelical Church.
The information on the Catholic Church for 2013 is the following: in that year 178,000 people left the Church. The primary data for 2014 indicates that the number of the members who left the Church increased by 20%.
The reason is money, or, more exactly: the Church income tax (Einkommensteuer). This deals with the profit from capital investments. Since 2000 the profit from capital investments has been taxed at a flat rate of 25%, which the banks themselves calculate and deduct. Taking into account that the profit from capital investments is a kind of income, then the mentioned tax has the status of income tax. According to the German legislation, the officially registered members of the Catholic and Evangelical Churches must pay the income tax and the Church tax.
Since 2013 the banks have had to deduct not only income tax but also the profit from capital investments and the Church tax. Since January 2015 this has been carried out automatically, according to the information in which the central tax administration informs banks to which religious denominations their clients belong. In 2013 and 2014 the banks were obliged to inform their clients about this innovation. In 2013 an exodus of people from the Church followed immediately.
At first, Churches did not inform their members regarding the changes in taxation. All the information was received only from banks which, beyond doubt, in communication with their clients paid too little attention on the advantages of membership in the Church, focusing on losses from the tax. Finally, in 2014 the Catholic and Evangelical Churches of Germany started informing their members, but, given the number of the members who have left, it is too late.
Source: Die Welt