The National Congress enacted this Thursday (17) a PEC (Proposed Amendment to the Constitution) that provides for exemption from IPTU (Imposto Predial Territorial Urbano) for properties rented by temples and churches.
The proposal had ended its processing in December, when it was approved by the House of Representatives. At the time, parliamentarians said that it was a signal for the evangelical bench, to compensate for the decision of President Arthur Lira (PP-AL) and to guide the urgency of a project that legalizes gambling.
Lira denied any relationship between the two stories and, at the time, indicated that the game project would be voted on in February.
The PEC enacted is authored by former senator Marcelo Crivella (Republicans-RJ), bishop of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.
The Brazilian Constitution already provides for tax immunity for temples of any cult. The new proposal extends the benefit to properties that are rented by temples or churches.
When justifying the proposal, Crivella stated that the main issue for the incidence or not of the tax would not be the characterization of the property of the property, “but the existence or not of the religious practice”.
“As is well known, lease contracts usually contain provisions for transferring the responsibility for paying IPTU from the lessor to the lessee. As a result, religious entities, although exempt from taxes, end up bearing the burden of said tax in cases where do not own the properties, which, in our view, is contrary to the intention of the Constituent Assembly”, says the former senator in the justification of the project.
”In addition to violating freedom of belief, creating an obstacle to the exercise of religions, even through the requirement of taxes, is not interesting, because, as is known, churches fulfill an extremely relevant and indispensable social role for a country as unequal as Brazil still is”, he adds.
In the Senate, the PEC was approved in 2016 and reported by Lira’s father, then senator Benedito de Lira (PP-AL). In his opinion, he explained that, according to the understanding signed by the STF (Supreme Federal Court), “not only properties owned by temples effectively used in their activities are immune, but also those that may be rented to third parties whose income is reverted to the benefit of the purposes of the temple”.
This Thursday, the president of Congress, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), recalled that the Constitution recognizes freedom of belief and religious practice. “From this recognition came as a logical consequence the granting of tax immunity to religious temples of any cult, as provided for in article 150 of the Constitution”, he said.
He recalled the judicial questions about the scope of tax immunity due to religious temples based in rented properties. “In the current practice of the real estate market, the lease contracts usually provide for the transfer of the responsibility for paying the IPTU from the lessor to the lessee”, he pointed out.
“As a result, religious entities often have to face legal obligations to bear these burdens, thus contradicting the manifest intention of the constitutional text.”
Pacheco stated that the enactment of the PEC removes misunderstandings and prevents restrictions on freedom of belief.
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