Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
New York Court Rules Tax Exemption in Favor of Catholic Diocese
Closed churches’ occasional use for religious purposes is enough to exempt them from property taxes.
Key point. Church property may be exempt from taxation though it is only used infrequently for religious purposes, so long as it is not used for any other purpose.

A New York court ruled that two churches that had been closed by a Catholic Diocese remained exempt from property taxes even though regular worship services no longer were conducted, since the properties were occasionally used for religious purposes (including monthly religious services) and this was their only use. A Catholic Diocese announced plans to permanently close two churches (the "petitioners"). Thereafter, canonical "decrees of suppression" were issued for the two churches that in effect transferred the property and care of the two churches to other parishes. The local tax assessor informed the diocese that the closed churches no longer qualified for exemption from property tax, and that both church properties had been placed on the tax rolls.

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Posted: December 22, 2014
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