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Cyprus Church May Owe 179 Million Euros in Tax, Official Says

The Church of Cyprus may owe as much as 179 million euros ($240 million) in unpaid tax, the eastern Mediterranean island’s auditor general Chrystalla Georghadji said.

The church fails to comply with an obligation to declare its real estate, Georghadji said in her 2009 annual report. The amount it owes may be as much as 74.3 million euros lower, according to an estimate of capital gain and property taxes based on nominal values by the Audit Office, said the report.

Total uncollected direct taxes of the euro area’s second smallest economy rose 8 percent in 2009 to 625.8 million euros, according to the report published today on the tax authorities website.

Archbishop Chrysostomos, said that he would not pay a “single euro” in unpaid taxes “as long as he is the head of the Church,” newspaper Politis reported on May 11.

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