Jamaican church ready to pay property taxes

Weekly offering off the table, says church head

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Sara Barnes sings during services at a church in downtown Kingstown, Sunday, June 29, 2008.

Gregory Bull, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Out take: It's common for governments to hike taxes and fees to raise revenue. But have you heard of tax-exempt organizations offering to help out by paying taxes? That's what is happening in Jamaica where the powerful Jamaica Umbrella Groups of Churches said it would be willing to pay property taxes as long as the government undergo cost cutting measures, as well. Imposing a tax on offerings from church members is off the table, however.

The Jamaican church said yesterday it would have no problem paying property taxes, if the Government asked it to pay up, as part of measures preparatory to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) pact.

"Whatever tax the Government feels that is reasonable for us to pay, we'll pay it," said Rev Rennard White, chairman of the powerful Jamaica Umbrella Groups of Churches (JUGC), which represents the large majority of Jamaican Christians.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, White said: "We should pay our fair share like everybody else, and if the Government decides to ask us to pay taxes on property that church buildings are on then so be it."

Currently, respective churches pay tax on all other properties. Yesterday, White was unable to give specific figures, but said that the church's real estate holding is "substantial" especially those of the Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, and Seventh-day Adventist denominations.

Read more about Church ready to pay taxes on Jamaica Observer.

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