The Australian Sex Party wants the Victorian government to apply payroll tax, land tax, stamp duty, rates and all the other usual taxes to religious institutions, as a way of giving tax breaks back to the state’s small business community.
Launching a new small business policy for her party in the run up to the Melbourne by election, candidate and party president, Fiona Patten, said that if religious institutions in Victoria were to pay their fair share of taxes, it would result in a net financial gain of approximately $400 million to Victorian state and local government revenues.
“Organised religion is as much a profit-making industry as any small business in this state”, she said. “They run gambling, bookshops, real estate and other businesses that are exempt from taxation simply because they claim some link to a higher being, encourage people to take up prayer and generally ‘advance religion’. Many small businesses would claim a similar link to an ideology or philosophy but they do not get these tax breaks. It’s unfair and discriminatory”.
The Catholic Church is the third largest individual owner of land in the world, with 177,000,000 acres under its direct control. Ms Patten said that in Victoria, it owned visible real estate like churches, schools and hospitals worth almost half a billion dollars, while it owned probably over $4 billion in ‘invisible’ real estate like golf courses, office high rise and residential apartments. “When you add in the real estate owned by the Anglican Church, other Christian denominations and the Jewish, Islamic and other religions, it represents an enormous amount of wealth and business activity that is being sponsored by individual taxpayers and non-religious businesses”, she said.
With child sex abuse cases flooding the state’s law courts and victims of paedophile priests using the public health system to fix the damage caused by church employees, Ms Patten said that it was time the government realised that religion was not necessarily a force for good in the community and that it could also be a force for anti social behaviour which it should contribute financially towards.
“If elected this Saturday, I promise to move a Private Member’s Bill to make religion pay it’s way and to reduce the taxation load on small business in Victoria.”
 The Sex Party acknowledges the contribution to this media release from the Australian Secular Party (A Review of Australia’s Future Tax System) and advocates placing John Perkins at #2 on the ballot paper.
 The New Statesman
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