THE IMPACT OF THE CITY OF CAPE TOWN’S RATES POLICY ON YOUR PARISH
The City of Cape Town has made changes in its rates policy which gives itself permission to charge rates on parish properties. In summary, the City has removed the designation of “Places of Worship” from their policy.
The Archbishop is asking you to contact your local councillor and object to the following:
- The City made the changes in rates policywithout any prior engagement with the Church, other Christian churches or other faiths. Religious leaders, including the Archbishop, met with the Mayor who promised much but little has happened.
- The City has may now charge Business and Commercial rates on the following:
- parish centres, halls and offices
- any public or private areas in the parish grounds, including gardens
- parish parking
- the Archbishop’s offices
- Catholic chaplaincies
- The City has the discretion to allow them to exempt the above properties as they have always done in the past.
The administration puts the blame on national government for tying their hands, but the problem appears to be unique to Cape Town. Neighbouring municipalities continue to exempt church properties that are used for religious and charitable purposes. The problem is the City of Cape Town’s rates policy.
The Archdiocese and its parishes continue to willingly pay for services like water, electricity, refuse collection and sewerage. We pay rates on properties that we use for other purposes, but we are unwilling to pay rates, especially commercial rates, on properties that are used for religious and charitable purposes.
Parishes rely on donations for financial support. Property rates are a form of local taxation – therefore the donations made by parishionersare being taxed indirectly. The Archdiocese, its parishes and charitable works receive no financial support from the City except through the rates exemption.
The City has offered an amnesty to churches who owe rates from the past, but the wording has some ambiguities and, furthermore, that does not solve the problem and does not look to the future.
In this election year, please take the opportunity to contact your local ward councillor who votes for this policy to request her/him for a return of “Places of Worship” as a rating category and stop the “taxation” on parishes, which we regard as unfair.
Here’s how to find the contact details for your Ward Councillor: https://www.capetown.gov.za/Family%20and%20home/Meet-the-City/City-Council/Find-your-councillor-ward-or-subcouncil