duties and impositions

poster taped to church door

As shown in the photo, there’s a poster taped to the church door in the village.

When I saw it, I thought it must be particularly important or they would have simply put it on the notice board along with the other general announcements.

So I went closer to have a look.

And this is what I found:

church tax poster

It’s a poster aimed at everyone doing their tax returns – la delaración de la renta – and explaining how you should mark with a cross if you want the church to receive a share of the tax you have to pay.

It struck me as an interesting juxtaposition of the divine and the wordly; of God and Mammon.

The ‘borrador’ mentioned on the poster is the draft copy that Hacienda send out with their suggestion of how much you owe them. You can simply accept what they say – though I think it’s still your fault if later on they decide you really owed them more – or you can pay an accountant to present a full declaración, which may mean you end up paying less, or being able to claim back rather more than the Tax Office estimate.

Either way, the form you fill in includes a check box allowing you to make a contribution to la Iglesia. It’s “una asignación voluntaria del IRPF que hace el contribuyente” and it’s currently set at 0,7%. (It goes to the Catholic Church, not any other Chrsitian denomination, and not any other religion, although there is a similar option for las NGO – non-governmental organisations or charities.)

I’m not sure of the authority of the kaosenlared.net page – though I think ‘chaos on the net’ is a fine domain name – but a recent article there tallies with other figures I’ve seen, and suggests that around a third of tax payers file their return with the cross a favor de la Iglesia. Which adds up to around 250 million euros a year, a figure that would make a considerable difference if it went into the treasury coffers instead of into those of the Church.

Since this blog is more linguistic than political, I’ll leave readers to draw their own conclusions about whether we should be rendering our taxes unto Caesar or to the Roman church. But I will mention a couple of language-related points:

  • In Spain, the Tax Office provide help with filling in your tax returns under the name PADRE – el Programa de Ayuda para la Declaración de la Renta. I don’t know who invented the acronym, but it makes me think of paternalistic governments and Big Brother, neither of which is particularly positive connotation.
  • In the UK we are used to the idea of ‘duty’ as a synonym for certain types of tax, and I wonder if this is a subliminal way of convincing us that paying tax is something we should do. The Spanish word for tax is impuesto. This must be derived from the verb imponer – equivalent to the English ‘impose’. So a tax is something that the government imposes on you.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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