Under German law, the Roman Catholic Church (with about 23.7 million members) and the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD, with about 22.2 million members) have the status of public-law entities and are entitled to levy a church tax and/or fee – Kirchensteuer – on their members. (There are similar arrangements in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and some cantons of Switzerland.) The status of Churches and religious societies is governed mainly by Articles 137 to 141 (the “Church Articles” – Kirchenartikel) of the Weimar Constitution of 11 August 1919 as incorporated into the Basic Law by Article 140.
Historically, the church tax has been 8 or 9 percent of income tax liability and the only way to avoid it is formally to leave your Church: Kirchenaustritt. Continue reading