South Africa to tax ‘commercial’ churches

South Africa’s Revenue Service (SARS) is demanding that charismatic churches involved in any form of trade pay tax ‘just like Jesus Christ’.
SARS is going after churches who are raking in millions from selling various merchandise to believers while not paying tax.
“The move comes exactly a week after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority announced it will start in January taxing churches’ income derived from trade or investments.
“SARS’s spokesperson Sandile Memela told South African daily The New Age that they were aware of thousands of churches that are not paying tax.
““Jesus Christ said ‘give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar’. So, give to the state what belongs to the state,” Mr Memela said.
“Public benefit status
“A Pretoria-based tax expert, Ms Nozipho Sithole, said government was battling with low tax revenues when some churches were involved in trade.
““We recently had students clamouring for free education, meaning government needs more revenue to be able to offer free education.
“”Interestingly, we have churches that are registered as non-profit organisations yet they make over R70,000 ($5,000) from selling CDs, Ds, books, anointed water, oil, handkerchiefs and other clothing. They are liable to pay tax,” Ms Sithole told Africa Review.
“Pastor Ray McCauley of Rhema Bible Church told the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) that he was aware of some 100,000 churches that are non-compliant.
“The commission confirmed Pastor McCauley’s financial books were in order.
“The CRL probe on churches has brought to the fore the glaring inconsistences surrounding the registration and taxation of churches in South Africa.
“Mr Memela explained that churches that were not granted public benefit organisation (PBO) status were required to pay tax.
“The Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference spokesperson Similo Mngadi confirmed they renew their PBO status every five years and were exempted from paying tax.
“SARS collected a total of $75 billion for the 201415 financial year.