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Churches—Definition

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the term “church” is not limited to buildings that are owned by a religious congregation, but also includes rented facilities.

Key point 5-02. The term "church" is used in a number of state tax laws, including property tax exemption statutes. State courts have struggled to provide an adequate definition.
Zoning Law for Churches

* The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the term "church" is not limited to buildings that are owned by a religious congregation, but also includes rented facilities. A state law provides that no license shall be issued for the retail sale of liquor within 150 feet of any "church." A convenience store applied for a license to sell liquor, despite the fact that it was located less than 150 feet from a church. A state liquor commission granted the license on the ground that the church was not a "church." It based this decision on its definition of a church as "a building owned by a religious organization, used primarily for religious purposes, and having tax-exempt status." The commission ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • May 1, 2003

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