This story has caught the imagination of many in the United Kingdom and the US , where Churches are funded through voluntary contributions.

Germany income Tax system is amongst the most complex in Europe included in income Tax is the Kirchensteuer surcharge , which has been part of the German Tax system since the formation of Germany in the 19th century.

All Germans who are officially  registered as members of a Church pay a religious  Tax of between 8 and 9% of their annual Tax bill. So if your Tax bill is 10,000 Euro per annum then approximately €800 will go on top of that given  you a total of €10,800 in tax.

The current controversy  follows on from a German catholic bishop decree , saying that anyone who fails to pay the  tax will no longer to be able to participate  in their local. In the past many expatriates , who went to live in Germany would simply opt out of a Church tax system.

The current controversy involves a retired professor of church law from frbiburg University named Hartmut  Zapp and it has been running since 2007.

Germany is not the only European country that has church taxes and this story will no surprise many who live in mainland Europe.

In Denmark this is generally in the region of 1% taxable income , Sweden this can be up to 2% , Austria 1.1% , Switzerland this can be as high as 2.3% but an individual may opt out, Finland an average of 1.3% and Italy 0.8%.

In Germany church taxes are normally payable by members of the church and there is an opt out procedure that people can follow.