National Herald on Patriarch’s Request for Properties: Who Will Pay the Taxes?

December 21, 2009

Editorial From the National Herald, originally posted here:

“Judging from the massive, angry reaction of our readers so far, it is obvious that we have hit a nerve with our editorial in last week’s edition entitled “Give Us Your Property”, rejecting Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s demand for “at least” a building from each one of our nine metropolises, in order, supposedly, to save the Patriarchate from the Turks.

A prominent member of the community — who asked us to withhold his name — went so far as to cite this demand as the justification for taking the first steps towards launching an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church in America.

While we fully understand his reaction, we do not see this as necessary.

As we stated in this space last week: “We wish there was a nicer way to say it, but this demand by Patriarch Bartholomew has crossed the line. It is so unacceptable and offensive, but also so revealing of his designs on our Church and its assets, that it raises many questions about his relationship to this community.”

In the same editorial, we cited five reasons why this demand should not be obeyed. We would like to offer one more this week:

The question arises as to who will be responsible for the taxes on buildings that might be transferred from our communities to the Patriarchate. This could amount to hundreds of thousand of dollars. Since we can safely assume that it will be our communities – that is, our people – that will be held liable, then this issue must be seriously considered.

We however, reached our conclusion last week. It is terrible idea and the request ought to be withdrawn as soon as possible. And it should be done by the signatory of the letter himself, Patriarch Bartholomew.”

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{ 2 comments }

Randy December 21, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Taxes? On church property? What country are you talking about? Since when do churches have to pay taxes?

The Editor December 21, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Local 501(c)3 organizations may indeed be tax exempt, but I believe it is unclear what legal entity would be viewed as the owner. If it is a Turkish individual or religious group (and transferring these properties seems to make it the property of a Turkish entity) then it’s unclear how the U.S. government would view the property with regards to taxation.

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