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Church - Government Face Off Over Taxes

church state fight over taxesThe government and the Orthodox Church are facing off over 169 million euros which the government claims the church owes it in back taxes.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II said the church will not pay one euro of the money, adding that he is prepared to go to court to settle the matter.

"I will go so far to say that the issue is not financial, but political - and even national," he said in comments to the press.

The church pays VAT on all its business transactions and pays capital gains tax when it sells any of its land, but is largely exempt from income tax.

"The church's property is holy and belongs to the people," said the archbishop.

The government has vowed to crack down on tax dodgers and has asked for a dialogue with the church to discuss the issue.

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