The Spanish Episcopal Conference (SEC) on March 2 announced that more Catholics donated part of their state taxes to their Church in 2020 than ever before.

Spaniards have the option of allocating 0.7% of their taxes to certain causes, including the Church.

And in 2020 some 8.5 million people — about a third of all taxpayers — ticked the box for the Catholic Church. That’s significantly higher than the 7.3 million that did so a year earlier.

Global growth

It is also noteworthy that in comparison to the previous year, 106,000 additional contributions were made to the Church.

“With all its heart, the Church gives thanks for the trust that this implies,” the bishops said.

But the situation varies from one territory to another.

In Andalusia, Rioja and Castilla-La Mancha, for example, four out of every 10 taxpayers gave to the Church.

But only one in four did so in the Canary Islands and Galicia, while less than 17% of those in Catalonia gave to the Church.

All in all, these returns have added up to 301 million euros that are distributed to Spain’s 72 dioceses.

Never before has the total amount been so high.

It has increased by 5.9% in the past year and by more than 20% in the past decade. Compared to 2010, the dioceses have thus collected over 50 million more euros.

This growth is reflected in all regions of the country.

Expected decline in 2021

Spain’s bishops believe the positive figures can be explained, in particular, by the situation that the country was in at the time taxes were filed — namely, in the first half of 2020.

This was during “the hardest months of the first wave of the pandemic” of COVID-19, when the Church “increased its presence and attention to the most affected groups”.

The bishops believe the voluntary increase in funding is a sign of “social and personal support for the work of the Church at that time”.

The bishops said the increase in funds will allow for “more effective aid to those most in need“.

But they fear that 2021 will not be another record year.

“The figures do not yet show the economic consequences of the pandemic situation in Spain since then,” they warned.

The sums obtained each year through the tax return are one of the main resources for the Church in Spain. They usually represent about a quarter of its income.

Other donations from the faithful make up a further third of the income, while patrimonial income makes up a little more than 10% of the total.