One in every three Spanish taxpayers chose last year to assign some of their yearly contributions to the Spanish Catholic Church, the only religious institution that enjoys such a privilege. In total, 7,191,387 people ticked the box on their tax return to make the donation, 26,885 up on previous years, and meaning a total donation of €284 million for the Church.
The total donations from taxpayers were up 6.19% on the previous year, and the figure was the highest since the current tax system was introduced in 2007. The data was supplied this week at a press conference held by the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) and the Catholic radio network COPE.
While the percentage of donations to the Catholic Church actually fell, to 32.4%, the amount of funds received by the institution rose by around €16 million
Since 2007, Catholic taxpayers have had the option of assigning 0.7% of their personal income tax (known in Spanish as IRPF) to the Catholic Church, without any extra cost. Before 2007, the amount that could be donated was 0.5%. The change was agreed between the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Vatican in 2006, a year when the Church received just over €144 million from the Spanish taxpayer.
The latest data is from 2019 tax returns, which cover economic activity for 2018. While the percentage of donations to the Catholic Church actually fell, to 32.4%, the amount of funds received by the institution rose by around €16 million compared to the previous year, thanks to an improvement in the pace of the Spanish economy, which led to a significant rise in the number of Spaniards filing tax returns.
The amount donated rose in all of Spain’s regions, put there are major differences according to location. For example, in Catalonia barely 17.4% percent of taxpayers check the box on their returns, a much smaller figure compared to Castilla-La Mancha (44%), La Rioja (44.9%), Extremadura (44%), Murcia (43.8%) and Castilla y León (42.2%). Other areas with lower figures include the Canary Islands (25.95%) and Galicia (24.9%).
Broken down by age, taxpayers who are between 40 and 60 were most likely to check the box, while 32.6% of under-19s also opted to donate. In terms of gender, women are more likely to take the option: 34.9% compared to 32.6% of men.
The figures presented this week are provisional, and will be confirmed later in the year by the Spanish Tax Agency and regional authorities.
English version by Simon Hunter.