The Catholic Church in the Canton of Zurich is recognised under public law. Part of this recognition involves the right to levy church taxes. Members of the Catholic Church make decisions on the annual budget, accounts and tax rate in the Catholic Church convention. The Parish Council administers the budgetary resources made available to it by the Catholic Church convention.
90% of church taxes remain within the Catholic Church in Winterthur
At least 90% of the church taxes paid by Catholics in Winterthur are available to the Catholic Church in Winterthur (Kirchgemeinde). 5 - 10% are handed over to the Church in the Canton of Zurich (in German). This contributes to the Diocese of Chur (in German) and the Roman Catholic Central Conference of Switzerland (in German). None of the funds raised by church tax go 'to Rome' - money sent to Rome is raised by separate voluntary collections (see below for more information).
Within the framework of the Standard Cost Compensation [Normaufwandausgleich, formerly known as the Finanzausgleich], Catholic Churches that are financially weaker receive compensatory payments from the Cantonal Church. The Cantonal Church skims off part of the tax revenue from Catholic Churches that are financially stronger. This system also serves as a symbol of solidarity among Catholic Churches.
No taxation of companies for religious purposes
The monies raised by church tax are derived from natural and legal persons (companies). Companies may not be members of the church. For this reason, a negative appropriation is provided for income derived from church taxes paid by legal persons (section 25, paragraph 2 of the Swiss Kirchengesetz). These funds may not be used for religious purposes (e.g. services). The funds are instead used to assist with social work, which is open to all people regardless of their religious affiliation, or to provide public education programmes, cultural services such as the upkeep of church buildings or church music, work with young people or seniors, or as part of community development.
Voluntary donations taking the form of collections (church offerings) are accrued by the Catholic Church in Winterthur (Kirchgemeinde) for specific purposes. In 1971, the Catholic Church convention made the decision to double the offering funds to a maximum of 1% of the basic state tax rate, and to send the total amount to projects at home and abroad as part of church development aid. Details can be found in the 2014 Annual Report (in German) of the Roman Catholic Church in Winterthur (Kirchgemeinde).
A referendum on the abolition of the church tax for legal entities took place in the Canton of Zurich in 2014. Voters chose overwhelmingly to reject the proposal to abolish church tax for companies, 70% of them having answered the proposal with 'no'.