From Spain a small step for the Christian community of Jehovah's Witnesses, but a big step for freedom of belief in Europe and around the world. While there are still, unfortunately, numerous violations of freedom of belief and religion globally, timely denounced with diligence by the USCIRF, the Spanish government has given a clear indication of which path to follow for a peaceful and civilized coexistence. The hope is that other governments will follow its example.
Spain grants historic tax exemption to Jehovah’s Witnesses
The Spanish government approved a significant adjustment to its country’s tax law on April 26, 2023. This decision affects Jehovah’s Witnesses in Spain in several positive ways.
The government’s decision exempts their organization from paying property taxes on theocratic facilities throughout the country. It also allows individuals in Spain who contribute financially to the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses to obtain a tax deduction on their contributions.
This adjustment confirms that Spain fully recognizes the status of Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religion in line with the numerous decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in the last thirty years.
While Jehovah’s Witnesses in Spain were granted legal recognition as a well-established religion in June 2006, they were not given the same tax exemptions as other religions in the country. Jehovah’s Witnesses continued filing requests to have these exemptions granted.
Unexpectedly, on April 24, 2023, officials from the Ministry of the Presidency invited representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Spain to a meeting. At this meeting, they were informed that the tax law concerning nonprofit organizations would be adjusted, making it applicable to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Two days later, on April 26, 2023, the Congress of Deputies approved this adjustment to the law. This change in the law is expected to be officially enacted in June 2023.
Joan Comas (left), a representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Spain, with Mr. Félix Bolaños (right), from the Ministry of the Presidency
Source: JW Website