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Councils eye charges on Church property

Spain's biggest landowner does not currently pay any real estate tax

With municipal coffers increasingly empty in the midst of a recession, local authorities across the land are wondering how they might get the Roman Catholic Church - Spain's biggest landowner - to pay real estate tax (IBI). Under the 1979 agreement signed between Spain and the Church, the latter is exempt from this levy, unlike Spanish citizens and businesses. Other religious organizations are also exempt.

In the meantime, the city of Zamora has decided to charge the garbage collection fee on Church-owned buildings, while Valladolid and León have commissioned legal studies to determine exactly what they can charge the Church for.

But Madrid Mayor Ana Botella, of the conservative Popular Party (PP), said on Thursday she would not consider such a move.