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Clerics in debate over taxation

Religious have mixed views over whether they should have to pay taxes staff, Seoul

March 23, 2012

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A senior official from the National Council of Churches in Korea says Protestant pastors in the country are more than willing to pay income tax. However, if they do so it should be on a voluntary basis and not imposed on them, said Reverend Kim Chang-hyun, who is the executive- secretary of the council which represents South Korea’s Protestant denominations. He was speaking yesterday in response to comments from the minister of strategy and finance who said in a TV interview early this week that the government hopes to amend laws and collect tax from religious people. Currently members of the clergy and Religious are exempt from paying income tax in South Korea but Catholic priests have paid it voluntarily since 1994 when the bishops' conference decided they should do so. “We as clergy should set an example by paying tax voluntarily," Rev Kim said. But he warned of a possible backlash if the government becomes heavy-handed in forcing payments. The subject of paying tax is a sensitive one in religious circles, with some supporting it and others still opposed. The Korean Association of Church Communication, another Protestant group, issued a statement yesterday saying "now is the time to discuss the matter rationally." It said some people are against taxing religious people, seeing it as subjugation to the state. Some members of the clergy say they would feel insulted being looked upon as an ordinary "worker," the association added. Many though finally recognize that paying tax is a citizen's duty and something that helps the nation. An official of the Buddhist Jogye Order said his order doesn't have an official position on the issue yet. But he said most monks have a positive outlook and are discussing it. Related Reports PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS WILL PAY INCOME TAX, KOREAN BISHOPS DECIDE    
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