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Business owner fights church taxes

A Swiss software company has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in response to being taxed by Switzerland’s two major churches.

The Strasbourg-based court will now decide whether this taxation of Swiss companies violates religious freedom.

Eighteen of Switzerland’s 26 cantons collect church taxes. This is also the case in canton Schwyz, where the software firm in question received a bill for SFr545 ($596) for the Catholic Church and SFr99 for the Protestant Church in 2005.

The owner of the company, who says he is an atheist, has already lodged a complaint with the Swiss Federal Court. Last September, the court in Lausanne ruled that the 130-year-old taxation policy was not in violation of religious freedom.

The IT professional told the media on Wednesday that charging companies a church tax constituted “blatant injustice” and was a “relic from the Dark Ages”.

Taxes collected from companies make up about a third of the revenues for Swiss churches. In 2007 the total amount added up to more than SFr250 million.

Paying a church tax is voluntary in canton Neuchâtel – where cigarette company Philip Morris has opted not to pay since 2010.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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