Europe court to hear Jehovah Witness tax case against France

Religious freedom appeal rejected

Expatica, Europe/September 30, 2010

The European Court of Human Rights said Wednesday it had agreed to consider a case brought by the Jehovah Witness Christian sect against the French government over taxation of donations.

In its request, the group alleged an infringement of the right to religious freedom saying the French government had tried to curtail its activities by demanding in May 1998 taxes on donations from its followers.

The sect said the move was an attempt to end the autonomy of religious communities.

French authorities say the donations were not raised from a religious source and so were subject to the same rules as other donations.

The 1998 demand was for 45 million euros (61 million dollars) at the time, but this amount had since reached 57.5 million euros, according to France.

It involves donations from 250,000 people over four years, an average amount of four euros per person a month between 1993 and 1996.

The court, based in the French city of Strasbourg, however rejected a case of religious discrimination against the Jehovah's Witnesses.

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