Today I managed to completely confuse and stump Her Majesty's Revenues And Customs (our tax office). Having spent nigh on an hour on the phone being passed from one person to another with a couple of answering machines, which didn't have the word "clergy" in their vocabulary, thrown in to infuriate me, I finally got through to a "technical advisor" who had the courage to admit that they simply did not know how they should tax a self employed priest. He said he had never come across the situation before. He took my number and promised to ring back after he had done some research. The question is am I a clergyperson if I am not employed by a "recognised" church?
I think the tax people should gen up on this subject as the way the Church of England is disappearing into a black hole of irrelevancy and petty bigotry would indicate that there will soon be a lot of us out here in the real world trying to live out our calling whilst not starving to death.
All this fuss and palaver just because I suffered from depression fifteen years ago which, because of the Eleventh Commandment (a person who has suffered from a mental health problem should never work for the Church of England again), means that nobody in the Church of England is even allowed to talk to me let alone help me get a job.
NEWS JUST IN
I am no longer a priest.
As far as the Inland Revenue is concerned I cannot be a priest unless I'm receiving money from a "recognised" Christian denomination.
So what am I?
Well, according to them I am a missionary and this means that I have to pay tax on all donations without all the lovely tax right offs that employed clergypersons get.
I'm sorry. I know it is wrong and all that. But I hate the Bishop of Newcastle. However I'm not alone. The man at the Inland Revenue thinks he's a nasty little bigot living in the past as well. But then the man at the inland revenue has also suffered from depression. The difference between him and me is that he works for a secular organisation that looked after him until he got better whilst I worked for a Christian organisation who dumped me in the gutter without even giving me the time to get better. The man at the Inland Revenue has a good job in their legal department whilst I have to beg like a drug addict to raise a pittance every day of the year.
I explained to the man from the Inland Revenue that the Church of England was exempt from employment legislation and their number one excuse is that God employs their priests not the Church. I told him that I wish that was the case because God would more than likely be a lot more gracious than the Bishop of Newcastle. He laughed. There's another person who won't be joining the established church anytime soon.