Law and religion round-up – 7th January

Marriage and parochial fees, Gift Aid, Scientologists, hijabs, Brexit – and priority for Buddhist monks…

Marriage certificates

The Sunday Times reported (£) on New Year’s Eve that the Home Office is likely to approve the inclusion of mothers’ names on marriage certificates. According to the report, “A Home Office source told The Sunday Times the proposal had been ‘signed off’, and a spokeswoman confirmed that it wanted to include mothers’ details. These will also appear on civil partnership certificates.”

The issue is currently the subject of two identical private Member’s bills tabled by Dame Caroline Spelman in the Commons and by the Bishop of St Albans in the Lords. The Lords bill is to have its second reading debate on 26 January.

“Get me to the church on time”

Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 29th October

An incredibly busy week, but at least everyone’s had an extra hour in bed…

(Un)protected beliefs

In a judgment of 13 October, Mr S T Uncles v NHS Commissioning Board and others [2017] UKET 1800958/2016, an Employment Tribunal held that a “philosophical belief in English nationalism” was not a protected characteristic in the terms of s10 Equality Act 2010. The ET applied the test in Grainger Plc & Ors v Nicholson [2009] UKEAT 0219/09/0311 and concluded that, though the views expressed were genuinely held, were a belief about a weighty and substantial aspect of human life – namely national identity – and were serious, cohesive and important, they were nevertheless incompatible with the human dignity and fundamental rights of others. The claim failed: we noted it here. Continue reading

Churches, employment and Real-Time Information for PAYE: update

This updates the information in the 2013 post on Real-Time Information and filing for employees’ PAYE which came into operation on 6 April of that year: the earlier post has been taken down. We’re afraid it’s just as boring as its predecessor…

PAYE and Real-Time Information: the background

PAYE began in 1944 and has changed very little in broad outline since its introduction over seventy years ago. At that time, work patterns were fairly static, jobs were often for life, and part-time, flexible working and multiple employments were much more the exception than they are now – which meant that the in-year estimation of tax liability based on a tax code was usually a fairly reasonable prediction of actual annual liability. As employment patterns became more complex, the system began to show increasing signs of strain. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 17th September

Brexit (inevitably), school dress codes, clergy employment, humanist marriage, religious karaoke – another mixed bag…


On Monday, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was given its second reading: Ayes, 326: Noes: 290. The Bill stands committed to a Committee of the whole House for eight days of detailed debate.

The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government both declined to recommend that legislative consent be given to the Bill by their legislatures unless it is amended to address their specific concerns.

Primary school uniform

Also on Monday, we reported the case of a husband and wife who had withdrawn their six-year-old son from his Church of England primary school after a boy in his class was allowed to wear a dress to school. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 30th April

Parliament was prorogued on Thursday ahead of dissolution on 3 May …

… but first, 

… there were several key pieces of legislation, of which there is a full list in Hansard, here.

Among the bills that survived the pre-Election frenzy, a truncated Finance Bill left out the trigger to start HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ initiative, no doubt to the relief of small charities everywhere. But it will almost certainly be back on the agenda in due course, whatever the election result.

Parliament also passed the Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill: a piece of emergency legislation which retrospectively resets the “14-day clock” in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that expired on 27 March and replaced it with a 108-day grace period ending on 29 June. The duty on the Secretary of State to set a date for a new Assembly election is therefore suspended, at least for a period, and he can continue negotiations over power-sharing. Continue reading

The ECtHR and church tax: Klein v Germany


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

Income tax: commercial software for Minister of Religion self-assessment

We don’t take advertising but the following is intended to be helpful – and we aren’t being paid for posting it…

As any UK cleric reading this will know, HMRC does not provide the necessary official software to enable clergy to complete the Minister of Religion: SA102M section of the income tax self-assessment return on-line – which means that clergy either have to buy commercial software or forego the option to file electronically.

Some time ago, the Honorary Taxation Adviser to the Baptist Union of Great Britain negotiated a concessionary rate of £12 for Baptist ministers for SimpleTax software, which enables users to complete SA102M electronically. SimpleTax is prepared to offer the concessionary rate to all those who need to complete SA102M, whether Baptists or not. Anyone who might be interested can try it here: the discount code is MORST2017.

Frank Cranmer