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February 17, 2012

Italy Looks to Tax Some Catholic Church Property

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's government wants to levy taxes on some property owned by the Roman Catholic Church, The New York Times reports.

Mr. Monti told the European Commission on Wednesday that his government would seek to change national law to collect taxes on the portion of the church's vast holdings that are used for shops, guest houses, and other commercial ends. If approved by Parliament, the move could bring $650-million to $2.6-billion a year into the straitened country's coffers.

Past Italian governments have swung back and forth on the issue, with the former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, quietly extending church tax exemptions. Mr. Monti's unusual public announcement of plans to reduce church privileges reflects growing sentiment among Italians, facing higher taxes and belt-tightening, that religious authorities should share the pain, the Times says.