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Bill taxing restitution money would strip tiny Czech Jewish community of $2 million

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Holocaust memorial in the Czech Republic (Wikimedia Commons photo)

A bill brought forward by the lower house of the Czech parliament will, if passed, cost the country’s small Jewish community more than two million dollars in taxes on properties returned to it.

The bill, submitted by communist lawmakers, passed by a large majority on Wednesday. It proposes to tax the compensation that the country’s churches and its Jewish community receive for property seized by the former communist regime, and in some cases, also by the Nazi occupation that preceded it.

To fully pass, the bill needs to be approved by the Czech Senate. A Senate vote has not yet been scheduled.

READ: ACTIVE HOLOCAUST RESTITUTION FUNDS: NOT TOO LATE TO APPLY FOR SOME

For the Jewish community, the law will mean a loss of 20 per cent of revenues from compensation for such property, Petr Papoušek, the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic, told the JTA.

“By numbers, it means that from 2020 we will lose 80,000 euro every year till 2043,” he added. By that year, the Jewish community would have lost more than two million dollars to taxes on property that the Nazis stole, and then were taken over by the communist government of Czechoslovakia.

“That is a huge problem for us and substantial money for our community,” Papoušek added.

Of about 90,000 Jews who were living in 1941 in what is now the Czech Republic, the Germans and their collaborators killed at least 71,000, or 78 per cent.

There are several thousand Jews living in the Czech Republic today.

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