Exemption Law

On May 26, 2000, Law no. 210 was issued stipulating that “each recognized sect in Lebanon and each legal person affiliated thereto prior to the issuance of this law shall be exempt from direct and indirect taxes as well as fees from which public institutions are exempt.”

These exemptions were prescribed by Decision no. 1/1719 issued by the Minister of Finance in 2013 as follows:

  • Taxes on profits yielded from industrial, commercial and non-commercial activities (Income Tax – Part I), provided that they do not compete with private entities.
  • Taxes on built property provided that the property is not rented or intended for rental purposes.
  • Customs and financial duties (including domestic consumption fees and Value Added Tax) as well as port and municipal charges on aid and donations.
  • Stamp duties on the contracts and agreements signed with other parties, provided that these parties be charged for their own copies.
  • Construction fees as stipulated in Item 12 of the amended Table 2 of Legislative Decree no. 148 dated June 12, 1959
  • Judicial fees as stipulated by Article 81 of the Judicial Fees Act.
  • Rental value tax as stipulated by Article 13 of Law no. 60/88 dated August 12, 1988 and its amendments (Municipal Fees) until 2010.
  • Pursuant to the provisions of this decision, donations that benefit from customs duty exemptions shall be treated like donations granted to public institutions in terms of exclusion from the minimal customs duty prescribed by the Customs Code.

Claiming Further Exemptions

Most religious sects branded the exemptions bestowed on them by the previous law as insufficient because they did not include the transfer fees imposed on donations and bequests conveyed to religious authorities, since public institutions do not benefit from this exclusion.

Whereas entitlement to exemptions is limited to religious authorities and legal persons affiliated to them, prior to the issuance of the law as clearly stated in the above text, and whereas this constitutes a flagrant discrimination among sects, there were also demands to eliminate the phrase “prior to the issuance of this law” so that everyone would benefit from the exemptions equally without tying them to a specific time frame. These demands came under the pretext that religious authorities seek to achieve social and humanitarian objectives that should be an ongoing endeavor unrestricted by a certain period of time.