Abolish Chancel Tax (Steeple Tax) Liability

An archaic law dating back to Henry VIII allow the church to demand homeowners pay for repairs of their local church if their home is built on land that at some distant time belonged to the church.

This law was recently enforced (2008) on a couple (the Wallbanks) who had to pay the church 200k for repairs of St John the Baptist church near Stratford upon Avon.  They challenged this in many courts at various levels, spending thousands on legal bills, but ultimately could not overturn the decision. 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2008/dec/08/church-of-england

Clearly this archaic law is still dangerous and enforcable.  Incredibly the church does not even have to spread the charge evenly across homeowners on the affected land.

This problem clearly infringes the moral rights of thousands of people in the UK.  Solicitors often spot this liability during the purchase/conveyancing process.  They have to pay for a "search" to check for it – guess who runs the search, the church – a nice earner – and what's more the search results are non-binding "you probably will/won't have to pay…".   The hapless homeowner is then forced to take out around 100 of insurance just incase the church sues them at some point due to this Chancel Liability.

I propose this law be scrapped.

Why does this matter?

This law is archaic and an afront to moral/decent values.  It is not right or the church to fine people in this way, they have no hold on the land – the homeowner often owns it freehold/outright, and many people living on it have nothing to do with the church and its belief system.  It is only a matter of time before the church enforces this morally corrupt law on some Islamic couple and then we will really see the sparks fly…

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7 Responses to Abolish Chancel Tax (Steeple Tax) Liability

  1. John Christopher Langham says:

    Good Idea.

    I can’t believe that the goverment refused to follow the Law Commission’s recommendation to abolish the liability in 1985

  2. Just buying a new house. The thought of taking out insurance for this is repugnant.

  3. Robert Humber says:

    Good idea.

    A morally corrupt law that should be abolished asap.

  4. Eric says:

    Silly idea. There they are all tehse wealthy couples admiring the view of the church out of their window and what it does for their community (and property prices!) but the thought of taking out £100 indemnity insurance is too much for them when they buy the house, even though it was built on church land and clearly had a restrictive covenant on. Imagine the fuss if it all fell down! Or am I wrong?

  5. Steve Brown says:

    This ancient law is a joke in 2013 Britain. We are just about to buy a house which this applies to and our solicitor is arranging appropriate insurane. We are both agnostic. Why the hell should we potentially have to pay money to repair a church that we never go to dont want and wouldnt care if it burnt to the ground….What happens if you are a Muslim or Jewish or a Hundu or Sikh? Are you still expected to pay towards the upkeep of a Christian place of worship? I am going to spend the rest of my days fighting this stupidity and brining it to an end. Spread the words and stuff the church!

  6. Tim (Wokingham) says:

    An archaic law that has NO place in the 21st century. That home owners are obliged to take out insurance to protect themselves from this onerous tax must rank as “a scam of immense proportions” and perpetuated by successive governments who are completely out of touch with public sentiments on this issue.

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