By Trevor Ammundsen
Isn’t it Time the Good Lord Contributed?
Some weeks ago, I joined the millions worldwide who watched the ceremony to crown our new King; King Charles III. We haven’t had a good coronation in my lifetime, so I wasn’t going to miss this occasion and I was not disappointed. The full pomp and ceremony that the English do so well was on display leading up to the actual coronation service in Westminster Abbey. I was particularly interested in the format of the ceremony and waited in anticipation as the procession inched forward.
When our budding King finally reached the clergy men who were to crown him, I turned the volume up. After all I did not want to miss a word of the god given statements that would be made to cement his position as head of state for not only England, but for New Zealand and the rest of the Commonwealth. Many flowery words were spoken, and the crowd listened, some enthralled, others half asleep, but I am certain that not many fully understood what was said so I will explain and simplify the ceremony for you all.
Firstly, the Church lay out its demands which quite simply were that none of their lands or items of wealth were to be taken from them, they were not to be expected to pay any taxes and the King would worship in their Church. The King then responded along the lines of saying that would be no problem. There you have it, the foundation of the State and the Church scratching each other’s back while we peasants are supposed to be impressed.
We live in a time when our country is broke, having been taken to the cleaners by an inept, totally incompetent government. We need to raise money as a country, to pay for the infrastructure rebuild that is required, support our government apparatus, and pay back the billions of borrowing the Labour Government made. The current tax take is down, so where will the money we require come from?
The simple answer is that our present tax take will cover a lot, but not all, of the fiscal requirement so various people are suggesting other means such as Wealth Tax, Capital Gains Tax and so on. These may have some merit, but they are just forms of adding to the tax burden of existing taxpayers. We need other sources of contribution and I suggest it is time for the Churches to make that contribution and I include in that other institutions who have tax -free haven status.
Many churches are wealthy organisations. For example, the Auckland Diocese of the Catholic Church has land investments of almost $800 million and other financial investments approaching $85 million. Other Churches also have much wealth but always seem to want more. There are the flamboyant Churches, paying no taxes while they use parishioners’ offerings to purchase flash new cars. There are those who expect the taxpayers to fund the re-build of cathedrals on their free hold land, and those that carry out commercial activities from their tax-free haven.
A land tax on these churches and other institutions could be a good earner for our government and relieve some of the pressure that is placed on taxpayers. It would probably force some change of habits from some who would be forced to share more of the income they generate and use their asset base to do this. Maybe the wealthy churches could become tax contributing members of society, but I think we will need to become a republic before we see this.
A Note: The focus of this article is the big money in institutions and many large church operations. I am aware and appreciative of, how much the members of the churches in this town and other towns on the Coromandel Peninsula open their doors, their pockets and use a big slice of their own time regularly for such things as Monday night meals, Give away days, Christmas dinner, Op Shops, children’s and youth clubs, overseas aid projects. The above is not to decry any of this work across our country. This is about land tax for institutions and churches, who own large areas of land and operate commercial interests.