Benue State Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of the Nigeria (PFN) Bishop Timothy Kume, has asked government to be cautious in its plan to get churches and mosques to pay tax.
Bishop Kume who gave the advised in an interview with THE UNION yesterday in Makurdi noted that it would be better if government sit with leaders of the religious bodies to listen to their view on the issues otherwise it would be met with resistance.
According to him, churches and mosques are neither commercial nor profit making institutions therefore it would be unfair for government at any level to think of imposing tax on them.
“Churches are not commercial centres, they are made up of individuals who pay tax to government, so imposing tax on churches will amount to double taxation because the same people are the ones who will contribute the money which again will be used in paying tax to government.”
“However, churches operate other institutions like hospitals, schools, and other businesses which are commercial in nature which can be made to pay tax, but any other attempt to compel the religious bodies to pay tax will be met with stiff resistance,” he noted.
According to him, it would be misleading for anyone to use what Jesus said in the Scriptures about paying tax to compel the religious bodies to pay tax, insisting that the statement was directed to individuals and not churches or synagues as was called that time.
“We are not against payment of tax by individuals, when Jesus asked Peter to get money from fish’s stomach to pay tax, he was talking to an individual, so it is immaterial that one is doing work of God so he should not pay tax, but asking the church as a body to do same would be wrong,” Bishop Kume explained.
He advised the Governor Samuel Ortom, administration to judiciously apply whatever, government would realised from the tax to give people a sense of belonging and motivate them to continue in payment of the taxes.