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Financing of Churches

Status of financing

The regulations of the Constitution do not refer to financing of churches and religious denominations. According to the article 25 para.1 all religious denominations should enjoy the freedom to (...)

The regulations of the Constitution do not refer to financing of churches and religious denominations. According to the article 25 para.1 all religious denominations should enjoy the freedom to perform their religious functions. In effect, public subsidies should be available for all religious denominations on the same legal conditions established by the State. According to Judgement of 14th December 2009 Polish Constitutional Tribunal noted that "state budget may provide a financial support for activities of churches and other religious denominations if objective criteria for such public subsidies are guaranteed by the act".
Article 10 of Act of 17th May 1989 on guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion provide that "Republic of Poland is a lay state, neutral in religious and convictions matters. The state does not subside and finance churches and other religious denominations. Exemptions from this general rule are established by the particular acts".

D 28 September 2012    AMichał Zawiślak APiotr Stanisz

Church Fund

The Church Fund was established pursuant to Article 8 of the 20th March 1950 Act on the Seizure by the State of the Property in Mortmain, on the Guarantee of Arable Farms to Pastors and on the (...)

The Church Fund was established pursuant to Article 8 of the 20th March 1950 Act on the Seizure by the State of the Property in Mortmain, on the Guarantee of Arable Farms to Pastors and on the Establishment of the Church Fund as a form of compensation to churches for the property expropriated from them by the state. In Communist Poland, the most sizeable amounts were expended for the sponsorship of the so-called “patriot priests movement” and non-catholic religious denominations. The Church Fund in that time was deprived of its financial autonomy and independent decision-making in favour of the Office for Religious Affaires. The profitability of the seized property was hardy assessable due to the insufficient data at the state’s disposal.

Since 1990 the Church Fund is a separate budgetary heading in part 43 of the state budget administered by the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration. In accordance with the principle of equal rights for churches and other religious denominations as worded in Article 25 para. 1 of the Constitution provides financial support for all religious denominations of established legal status in Poland. According to the new regulations, the Church Fund has financial assistance on the following aims:

- social security and healthcare contributions of the clergy as provided for in relevant insurance regulations
- supporting charitable as well as educational activity of the Church and also his initiatives in the area of counteracting social pathologies
- renovation and conservation of sacred buildings of historical value, the subsidies are granted exclusively to the renovation and conservation of sacred facilities of historical value In practice subsidies for last two aims are currently insignificant.

D 28 September 2012    AMichał Zawiślak APiotr Stanisz

Financial projects of Minister of Culture and National Heritage

Minister of Culture and National Heritage announces each year financial programs focusing in such matters as "protection of historical monuments", "support the museum", "promotion of cultural (...)

Minister of Culture and National Heritage announces each year financial programs focusing in such matters as "protection of historical monuments", "support the museum", "promotion of cultural heritage abroad". Most of the ministerial programs are available for churches and other religious denominations. The subsidies are under full control of Minister of Culture and National Heritage. The conditions for applying for financing changed every year.

D 28 September 2012    AMichał Zawiślak APiotr Stanisz

Legal status of taxation of the religious legal entities and clergy

Personal Income Tax:
Priests and clergy are obligated to pay income tax according to the normal rules if they are working as teachers of religion in schools, chaplains in the army. Priests are (...)

Personal Income Tax:

Priests and clergy are obligated to pay income tax according to the normal rules if they are working as teachers of religion in schools, chaplains in the army.
Priests are obligated to pay tax from pastoral activities. The subject of taxation is income from donations of believers received in connection with pastoral activities. Tax (called “flat rate”) is paid quarterly. The amount depends on the function performed by the priest and the number of inhabitants of the parish.

Corporate Income Tax:

Principles of taxation of income of ecclesiastical legal entity depend on the nature of the activity from which income was obtained. If income came from statutory activities (non profit making) is tax free and there is no obligation to keep records of taxation. If the ecclesiastical legal entity has income from non-statutory activities (profit making) is obligate to keep records of taxation. Income is tax free if it is intended to one of those objectives: religious worship, educational, scientific, cultural, charitable, conservation of sacral monuments.
Income from production of electronic products, fuel, tobacco, alcohol products and jewellery is always subject to normal taxation.

D 28 September 2012    AMichał Zawiślak APiotr Stanisz

Donations of 1% off the income tax to public benefit organisations

According to regulations of the 24th April 2003 Public Benefit and Volunteer Work Act have been introduced a provision, according to which donations of 1 % off the income tax may be donated by a (...)

According to regulations of the 24th April 2003 Public Benefit and Volunteer Work Act have been introduced a provision, according to which donations of 1 % off the income tax may be donated by a taxpayer to public benefit organisations. Churches and other religious denominations themselves are not such organisations, but they may establish local or diocesan organisations, foundations, charity organisations, which must undergo a certain registration procedure.
In 2009 taxpayers donated over 95 million euros. The statistics of the Ministry of Finance do not provide information about what was donated to public benefit organisations established by the churches and religious denominations.

D 28 September 2012    AMichał Zawiślak APiotr Stanisz

Work on the Changes in the System of Funding the Catholic Church and Other Religious Organizations – Current Situation

The work on the changes in the system of funding churches and other religious organizations initiated by the Government in March 2012 (see Current debates/Archives/June2012, "Work on the changes (...)

The work on the changes in the system of funding churches and other religious organizations initiated by the Government in March 2012 (see Current debates/Archives/June2012, "Work on the changes in the system of funding the Catholic Church and other religious organizations") has not yet led to any final agreement. Especially, no consensus has been reached by the teams appointed for that purpose by the Government and the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, Michał Boni, the Minister of Administration and Digitisation, put out the draft concerning the new funding policy for public consultation on 26th July 2013 (i.e., the Act amending the Act on guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion, among other Acts). During the public consultation procedure, the representatives of both the Catholic Church (primarily the Secretariat of the Polish Episcopal Conference acting in collaboration with the Apostolic Nunciature) and other religious organizations submitted a number of comments on the draft (see the Ministry of administration and digitisation website, in Polish). The major concern was that the draft had not been agreed upon by religious organizations, as required by legal regulations in Poland. As explained by Minister Boni, however, the public consultation procedure for the draft did not exclude the possibility of concluding relevant agreements. Once the public consultation procedure had been completed, the teams appointed by the Government and the Catholic Church resumed their work. The meetings of the representatives of the Government and non-Catholic religious organizations were also resumed. The work was, however, discontinued due to the appointment of a new Minister of Administration and Digitisation in November 2013 (Michał Boni was replaced by Rafał Trzaskowski).

D 22 January 2014    AUrszula Szczęch

Legal status of taxation of the religious legal entities and clergy

Personal Income Tax: Priests and clergy are obligated to pay income tax according to the normal rules if they are working as teachers of religion in schools, chaplains in the army, hospitals and (...)

Personal Income Tax: Priests and clergy are obligated to pay income tax according to the normal rules if they are working as teachers of religion in schools, chaplains in the army, hospitals and other public facilities.

Pastoral tax
The statistics show that there are 19.700 payers of the pastoral tax (the data of 31 December 2015). According to the statistics of Catholic Church (2014) there are 31.000 regular priests, 12.291 of catholic monks and 19.037 of nuns. Moreover catholic monks and nuns are not entitled to pay the pastoral tax. The legal justification of the pastoral tax in Poland is Ustawa z dnia 20 listopada 1998 r. o zryczałtowanym podatku dochodowym od niektórych przychodów osiąganych przez osoby fizyczne.

According to the official statistics of the Ministry of Finance, the global amount of pastoral tax paid by the priests of all legally recognized churches is around 13 mln PLN each year. It should be noticed that globally income received from personal income tax to the State budget is around 70 mln PLN each year.

Global amount of pastoral tax paid by the priests (of all legally recognized churches) to the State budget

Tax year Global amount of pastoral tax
Paid by the all priests*
Global amount of personal icome tax paid to the State budget Percentage share of global amount of pastoral tax and income tax paid to the State budget
2010 13,5 mln PLN 62 mln PLN 22%
2011 13,4 mln PLN 67 mln PLN 20%
2012 13,2 mln PLN 70 mln PLN 18%
2013 13,3 mln PLN 73 mln PLN 18%
2014 12,6 mln PLN 78 mln PLN 16%

*”All priests” should be understood as „priests of all legally recognized churches”

Priests are obligated to pay zryczałtowany podatek dochodowy [pastoral tax] quaterly. The subject of taxation is the income from donations of believers received in connection with pastoral activities. The income from pastoral activities is not shown in the official tax records of the priests. Each year, the Ministry of Finance announces the amount of the quarterly rates for the pastoral tax. Generally, the amount of quarterly rates of pastoral tax depends on the function performed by the priest (pastor or vicar) and the number of inhabitants of the parish.

Amount of quarterly rates of pastoral tax (PLN) in 2018

Amount of pastoral tax paid quarterly by the pastors

Number of inhabitants* in the parish Amount of quarterly rates of pastoral tax
PLN (Polish Zloty)
from to Minimum monthly salary in 2018 Minimum hourly wage in 2018
0 1 000 427,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
1 000 2 000 486,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
2 000 3 000 524,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
3 000 4 000 574,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
4 000 5 000 624,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
5 000 6 000 682,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
6 000 7 000 743,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
7 000 8 000 802,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
8 000 9 000 865,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
9 000 10 000 939,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
10 000 12 000 1023,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
12 000 14 000 1109,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
14 000 16 000 1207,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
16 000 18 000 1307,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
18 000 20 000 1414,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN
20 000 1533,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN 13,70 PLN

*The number of inhabitants of a parish is based on the public registry dated to 31 December of the previous year

Amount of pastoral tax paid quarterly by the vicars in 2018

Inhabitants of parishes If the parish is placed
At a city which has inhabitants
from to At an area of local community or city which has no more than 5000 inhabitants** More than 5.000 and no more than 50.000 More than 50.000 Minimum monthly salary in 2018
Amount of quarterly rates of pastoral tax PLN
0 1 000 129,00 PLN 269,00 PLN 387,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN
1 000 3 000 387,00 PLN 406,00 PLN 406,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN
3 000 5 000 406,00 PLN 431,00 PLN 448,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN
5 000 8 000 415,00 PLN 448,00 PLN 460,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN
8 000 10 000 431,00 PLN 470,00 PLN 484,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN
10 000 448,00 PLN 484,00 PLN 495,00 PLN 2100 gros (1530 netto) PLN

**The number of inhabitants of the parish is based on the public registry dated to 31 December of the previous year

Podstawa prawna: obwieszczenie Ministra Finansów z dnia 21 listopada 2017 r. w sprawie stawek karty podatkowej, kwoty, do której można wykonywać świadczenia przy prowadzeniu niektórych usług z wyjątkiem świadczeń dla ludności, oraz kwartalnych stawek ryczałtu od przychodów proboszczów i wikariuszy, obowiązujących w 2018 r. (M.P. z 2017, poz. 1111).

Legal source: Communication of the Ministry of Finance on 21 November 2017 on (…) quarterly rates of pastoral tax on the incomes of parish priests and vicars paid in 2018.
Corporate Income Tax: The principles of taxation of the income of an ecclesiastical legal entity depends on the nature of the activity from which income was obtained. If income came from statutory activities (non profit-making), it is then tax free and there is no obligation to keep records of taxation. If the ecclesiastical legal entity has income from non-statutory activities (profit making) it iss obligated to keep records of taxation. Income of ecclesiastical legal entity (profit making activities) would be exempted from tax if it were intended for one of those objectives: religious worship, education and upbringing, science, culture, charity and welfare preservation of monuments, management of religious education facilities and charity, and sacred investments such as the construction, extension and reconstruction of chapels, adaptation of other buildings for worship purposes, as well as other investments involving the establishment of religious education facilities and charity and welfare centres.
Income of profit-making activities such as: production of electronic products, fuel, tobacco, alcohol products and jewellery is always subject to normal taxation, even if they are intended for the purposes enumerated in the Act on Corporate Income Tax. Such income is treated as typical activities of private companies

New topic: Exemptions from Property tax
Tax exemptions from property tax are set up in Ustawa z dnia 12 stycznia 1991 r. o podatkach i opłatach lokalnych [Law of 12 January 1991 on Local tax and other charges]. There is clear distinction between real estate property used for residential purposes by the clergy and real estate property used for non-residential purposes. Firstly, if real property estate is used for non-residential purposes by the clergy or the members of religious orders, it is exempt from taxation. On the other hand, non-residential purposes do not include business activities, but only religious activities such as: worship, education, historical buildings etc. Other property free from tax is property serving as dormitories for theological schools and seminars, retirement homes of nuns and priests, as well as central buildings occupied by the authorities of religious denominations and other buildings dedicated to the governing boards of local religious authorities.

Topic: Donations of 1% off the income tax to public benefit organisations

Voluntary system of donations for the activities of religious denominations

One of the possible forms of suport for the activities of churches and other religious denominations is tax relief granted to payers who make donations to religious denominations. According to provisions of Ustawa z dnia 26 lipca 1991 r. o podatku dochodowym od osób fizycznych [Law of 26 July 1991 on Personal Income Tax] and Ustawa z dnia 15 lutego 1992 r. o podatku dochodowym od osób prawnych [Law of 15 February 1992 on Corporate Income tax] tax may be reduced by for example the amount of donation for religious puproses and to public benefit activities.
The domain of public benefit activity includes such activities as: charitable activities, science, education, teaching and assistance to the victims of calamities, natural disasters, armed conflicts and wars. The level of tax deductions for the donations is restricted by the law. Currently, the limit is 10% of income of the corporate income tax and 6% of income of the personal income tax.

It is important to note that relief donations to charity and welfare activities made to the catholic Church and Orthodox Church are not subject to the limits mentioned above. However, the regulations included in the acts on the Catholic Church and the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church provide special treatment for only those two churches. In practice, to take advantage of such a relief it is required for the recipient to report on the allocation of the donated amount to charity and welfare activities in the period of two years from the date of donation. Unfortunately, such report has no official form, and is very often contested by the Internal Revenue Service.

The regulations of the 24th April 2003 Public Benefit and Volunteer Work Act have introduced a provision, according to which donations of 1% off the income tax may be donated by a taxpayer to public benefit organisations. Churches and other religious denominations are not themselves such organisations, but they may establish local or diocesan organisations, foundations, charity organisations, which must undergo a certain registration procedure.

The right to grant 1% of income tax to public benefit organizations is given to taxpayers subject to taxation under the general principles. The right to transfer 1% of income tax is exercised voluntarily by each taxpapayer by the acceptance of concrete public benefit organization. Tax authorities are then obliged to transfer the 1% of income tax directly to the highlighted organization.

Source: P. Stanisz, Religion and Law in Poland, Wolters Kluwer 2017, pp. 117-127.

D 30 May 2018    AMichał Zawiślak

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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