Andrej Babiš, tasked with forming a new government after his party ANO won a decisive victory in the election in October, is looking to tax church restitution funds, the daily Lidové noviny writes. The funds until now were exempt in a deal agreed between a previous center-right government and religious organizations, to offset damages caused by the communist regime when it unlawfully seized church property in Czechoslovakia after 1948. Over 30 years, the state is to pay some 59 billion crowns, adjusted for inflation for property which could no longer be returned (while property worth 75 billion crowns, was).
Not only Mr Babiš is in favor of taxation, according to the daily, but also the Communist Party, which cited taxation of the funds as crucial for its support of an ANO-led minority government. The Freedom and Direct Democracy Party, led by businessman turned politician Tomio Okamura has also backed the idea.
ANO, the communists and Mr Okamura's party could together easily pass the changes in the new Chamber of Deputies. The change would not, however, be retroactive and could not affect funds returned since the deal went into effect in 2013.
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