Italy ordered to recover unpaid Church property tax

LUXEMBOURG CITY – The European Court of Justice has ordered Italy on Tuesday to recoup an estimated four to five billion euros of ICI property tax that has not been paid by the Catholic Church, judicial sources say.

 Tuesday’s ruling annulled a 2012 decision by the European Commission and a 2016 EU court sentence which had cited that “the impossibility of recovering the aid because of organisational difficulties” with respect to non-commercial bodies, such as schools and hotels, as grounds for the ruling.

 Instead, the ECJ judges ruled that these circumstances constituted “mere internal difficulties in Italy.” A second appeal on another form of property tax (IMU) was, however, rejected in Luxembourg.

 The appeal was filed to the ECJ by heads of Rome’s Montessori School, who were quoted as saying “we’re very happy, it has been a long battle, but in the end, David has beaten Goliath” after the ruling. “We fought this battle representing non-religious and democratic businesses which wanted to fight the privileges that distorted, and still distort, the country’s economic life.” The school, situated in the Balduina district of the capital, only has around 150 students.