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Priest takes on Treasury over ‘unfair charity tax’

18 July 2014

iSTOCK

A PRIEST in Warwickshire has begun a David and Goliath battle with the Treasury over the imposi­tion of insurance premium tax (IPT) on listed places of worship.

The Revd Christopher Wilson, Priest-in-Charge of All Saints', Leamington Priors, and Holy Trinity, Leamington Spa, says that churches in the Warwick and Leamington deanery pay a com­bined total of about £6000 per year in IPT. He estimates that a total of £5 million per year is paid by the Church of England and other faith communities as a result of IPT.

When it was introduced in 1994, IPT was added to insurance pre­miums at a rate of 2.5 per cent. Over the past 20 years, it has risen to six per cent.

Ecclesiastical Insurance, which insures most C of E churches, could not put a figure on the amount of IPT paid by churches, but said that the latest estimates from the Asso­ciation of British Insurers for the 2010/11 tax year, put the total value of IPT for the Treasury at £1.6 billion per year.

"Insurance premiums for churches have also risen year by year, and the result is that churches are paying an amount of tax which is significant to the Church, but negligible to the Treasury," he said. "I am of the view that churches and charities can use the money more effectively, and also that voluntary giving is encouraged when more of it is spent on the mission of the church or charity rather than on tax."

Mr Wilson met Treasury officials earlier this month. He later de­­scribed the meeting as "positive", saying: "I think I put forward quite a strong case for consideration. . . We have this wonderful heritage of church buildings to care for, but, actually, our primary focus is on individuals and communities; it is for the sort of needs that we see around us - Street Pastors, food­banks, and so on - that people are more willing to give their time and money to. Anything like Insurance Premium Tax detracts from that by making us raise money for what you might call overheads.

"Churches are not mapped out according to current needs and cur­rent levels of wealth. We do have inherited buildings in places that no longer have the wealth to sustain them in the way that was envisaged when they were built. The mainten­­ance burden, and the Insurance Pre­mium Tax that goes along with it, is quite an unfair tax based on his­torical accident."

A government e-petition, set up by Mr Wilson, calling for IPT to be removed on listed places of worship, had attracted 338 signatures by the middle of this week.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/60191

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