Church Rate (church tax): levy payable by all members of recognised Christian Churches to cover personnel and non-personnel costs. In Austria the church tax is the main source of income (more than 80%) of the Catholic Church. Up to 1939 the government financed the Roman Catholic clergy mainly from a special fund Religionsfonds and through state subsidies (Kongrua-Gesetze). Under the provisions of the church tax law that entered into force in 1939 nearly all government payments given to the Catholic, the Protestant and Old Catholic Church were abolished. The law of 1939 has remained in force in the Second Republic. All members of the above-mentioned churches who have attained majority are liable to contribute. Payment is governed by provisions made by the churches themselves. Outstanding church taxes are actionable (like membership contributions to any other private association) in the civil courts and are recovered by court action.
Literature: H. Schwendenwein, Österreichisches Staatskirchenrecht, 1992; H. Heimerl, Handbuch des kirchlichen Vermögensrechtes, 1993.