The institutions of the Hungarian Evangelical Fellowship are once again in a financially critical situation. National Tax and Customs Administration of Hungary (NTCA) debited our account for 246 131 000 HUF (684 000 EUR) related to the salaries of our individual institutions. They did this without waiting for the resolution of the pending court cases challenging this ruling. We cannot use the funds that we would be entitled to and have not received for years, nor can we pay it through other sources or debt.
Unfortunately, our assumption that there is some tactical consideration behind the restoring of our technical number (in order to receive 1% of individual payment of tax), seems to be confirmed.
It is important to emphasize that the restoration of our ecclesiastical status (which was unconstitutionally removed) would allow individuals to direct 1% of their taxes to our church and would provide two to three times this current amount debited. This is why we have brought legal action to claim the one percent offerings unduly withheld in recent years.
The result of our action is questionable, and even if the courts act in accordance with the law and grant our petition, it will take months, or years to finish. It is a billion-forint item of additional budget support for churches, which would provide for the social, health, educational, and family protection services we do among the poorest. We have not received this support for years.
We receive a regular response to our “complaints” that the Hungarian state has paid us compensation. The truth, however, is that the compensation received so far has been only partial. The Hungarian state only wanted to acknowledge its debt before 2017 but has still cut off the one percent contributions since 2015. Because of the intervention of the Strasbourg Court, the government paid a portion of what it owed the church and thus it acknowledged their violation against us. However, this should not allow for further violations, nor for the fact that another deformation of ecclesiastical law has made it virtually impossible to regain our ecclesiastical status.
Thus, since 2017, the Hungarian state has not paid any compensation and has even made hundreds of millions of withdrawals and has unilaterally and against our will denounced us as an association engaging in religious activities, instead of recognizing our full ecclesiastical status.
Until 2010, our church had no debts and no significant profits. Our problems since then stem exclusively from the fact that the Hungarian state has taken our ecclesiastical status for political reasons. The discrimination, and persecution of our community is readily visible to impartial external observers. If there is no change and the Hungarian state refuses to negotiate and follow the guidelines of the Hungarian Constitutional Court, the Venice Commission, and the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights, we will no longer be able to perform our regular services to the poor and disenfranchised. This fact has also been noted by the Venice Commission.
We emphasize that the money taken from us does not fund the religious activities of our church, but rather is used to give the poorest hope of healing, hope for a dignified life, and hope to build their future. If NTCA does not realize, as the National Utilities did during the fall, that they have to wait and postpone payment, then we will not be able to pay wages in March. About a thousand employees and roughly that many families may lose their job and livelihoods, not to mention the poor we serve and our institutions. The NTCA’s answer to this is that the state will take over our responsibilities. Selective nationalization is the same sin as the general one.
With this information, we would like to inform our domestic and international supporters and encourage everyone to do their best and contribute as much as possible.
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