Church Teaching On Tax Evasion

 

Sir, - Joseph Marron (October 23rd) suggested that Dr Desmond Connell might outline the Catholic Church's teaching on tax evasion. It would be impossible to do this in a short letter, but I would refer readers to a number of comments from the Irish Catholic bishops and from Dr Connell which may be helpful.

After their Autumn 1991 meeting, the Irish Bishops' Conference reaffirmed its consistent teaching on this issue by making the following statements, widely reported in the media:

There is a moral obligation on all sectors to pay their just and lawful share of taxes.

Evading tax by making false or misleading returns is immoral.

No occupation group can rightly or reasonably object to carrying its just share of the nation's tax burden.

Governments have to ensure that systems of taxation are just and equitably distributed over the different sectors of the community.

Dr Connell referred to these and other related issues in his pastoral on Christian Integrity published in 1992. In it he refers specifically to the issues of tax evasion and integrity in business. The archbishop expresses concern about allegations of impropriety in the business world and notes that business can flourish only when there is confidence, which in turn is based on the integrity of its members. He also makes the point that while not many of us are in a position to engage in massive corruption, we may need to examine our consciences about issues such tax evasion or about making dishonest accident claims against insurance companies.

Finally, the report from the Bishops' Conference makes the point that there are many people who take their privileged position of leadership in business in a truly Christian spirit of service to the community and we give thanks for their witness.

Dr Connell also refers to the many upright men and women who occupy prominent positions in business and on whose integrity we all depend by reason of the invaluable contribution they make to opportunities for work and to the economy.

I believe the above remarks outline in a helpful manner some of the key principles concerning payment of taxes on which your correspondent was seeking clarification. - Yours, etc., John Dardis, SJ,

Communications Director, Archdiocese of Dublin, Drumcondra, Dublin 9.