Berlin: The road to heaven is paved with more than good intentions for Germany`s 24 million Catholics.
If they don`t pay their religious taxes, they will be denied sacraments, including weddings, baptisms and funerals.
A decree issued last week by the country`s bishops cast a spotlight on the longstanding practice in Germany and a handful of other European countries in which governments tax registered believers and then hand over the money to the religious institutions.
In Germany, the surcharge for Catholics, Protestants and Jews is a surcharge of up to nine per cent on their income tax bills -- or about USD 72 a month for a single person earning a pre-tax monthly salary of about USD 4,500.
For religious institutions, struggling to maintain their congregations in a secular society where the Protestant Reformation began 500 years ago, the tax revenues are vital.