This Protestant church in Rome loses legal battle against tax authorities


Southern Europe

Chiara Lamberti, CNE.news

The Evangelical church plant in Rome has a simple meeting house. According to the Tax Agency, this is too simple for a church and should still be seen as a shop. Photo Breccia di Roma

The Evangelical church’s place of worship, Breccia di Roma, is not an official church. The congregation should, therefore, pay taxes. On Thursday, the Supreme Court in Italy confirmed the Tax Agency’s decision, settling a five-year-old legal battle.

The Protestant church plant Breccia di Roma had been waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on whether its meeting house could officially be considered a place of worship and, as such, exempt from taxes, as the Italian law provides.

On Thursday, June 12, 2024, the court ruled against the church. After winning two previous rulings in lower courts, the church lost the final appeal.


The legal battle has been going on since 2019, when the Tax Agency first sued the church, deeming it ineligible for tax exemption.

The motivation behind this decision concerns the structure of the church. According to the Tax Agency, the venue cannot be considered a place of worship and, therefore, exempt from taxes since it has not undergone any structural changes since its purchase.

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The church's facade on the right in a shopping street in the centre of Rome. Photo Google Street View

The property was previously a shop in the centre of Rome. In legal terms, this means a place of commercial business. After the purchase, the church filed to change its destination and set about to furnish it simply and modestly to serve the church’s various activities: worship, training, meeting place, etc.

This week, the Supreme Court of Cassation agreed with the Tax Authorities, saying that the venue cannot be recognised as a church because it hasn’t made any structural changes. It still has the same form as when it functioned as a place of business.

The “structural changes” are not specified, so it is not possible to say what kind of changes the church could have made to be recognised as a church.

The background is that the Breccia’s space does not resemble a traditional Catholic church or an impressive religious building. It is nonetheless compatible with the Protestant conviction that a worship space is such if it is dedicated to preaching God’s Word and celebrating the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. Despite being in no way a commercial business place and exclusively used for worship and Biblical training, the church will have to pay heavy taxes as if it were a place of business.

As a result, Breccia di Roma will have to pay at least 6,000 euros a year in taxes. Above this comes a large debt for years of back taxes and the legal fees that have accrued while the case has been argued.


According to the Breccia church plant, this is a significant restriction of the freedom of worship and undermines the guarantees that the Italian Constitution provides its citizens, in this case, equal rights for religious minorities. While the church is certainly disappointed about the ruling, it also desires to move forward and see fairer and more equitable treatment of religious minorities.



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