The Parliament voted unanimously to exempt the Catholic Church from the heavy duties imposed on the importation of alcoholics.
by Daniela Bovolenta
Sometimes, small gestures may show that a country cares about religious liberty and the religious feelings of its citizens.
In El Salvador, a law decree recently came into force that exempts the import of wine intended for Roman Catholic masses from the heavy taxes imposed on imported alcoholics. It is law decree no. 838, dated March 11, 2021. Similar laws had been passed in the past.
In El Salvador, imported alcoholic beverages are subject to a 20% to 40% duty, as well as domestic taxes that include a specific tax based on alcohol content and an 8% ad valorem tax.
The bill is very heavy for the Catholic Church, which imports a significant quantity of its Mass wine, particularly when its income has been reduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, as devotees did not attend for months in-person liturgies where offers are collected.
The law decree notes that the Catholic Church imports yearly 20,000 liters of Mass wine, and up to this quantity establishes that imports are tax-exempt. Only VAT should be paid by the Catholic Church on this wine.
The Archbishop of San Salvador, Mgr. José Luis Escobar Alas, and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Central American country had solicited the measure, and applauded its approval.
The Legislative Assembly approved the measure unanimously, 54 to 0.