Taxation—Church Property

An Illinois court ruled that a church-owned home used primarily as a residence for a teacher in the church’s school did not qualify for exemption from property taxation.

Church Law and Tax 2004-03-01

Taxation—church property

Key point. Homes that are used by teachers in church-operated schools may not qualify for exemption from property taxation.

*An Illinois court ruled that a church-owned home used primarily as a residence for a teacher in the church’s school did not qualify for exemption from property taxation. The church applied for exemption of the property from taxation, but its application was denied. A state appeals court agreed that the property was not tax-exempt even though it was occupied by a teacher employed by the church to teach a second grade class from a Christian perspective. A state law exempts property “used exclusively for religious purposes, or used exclusively for school and religious purposes.” The court concluded that the house did not satisfy the requirements for exemption. It observed, “The five-room house is primarily a place for the teacher to live. Only one room, the bedroom that serves as her office, is used for school or religious purposes. No school or religious functions take place on the property. Although her contract (her call) requires her to live in the house, the evidence does not establish that the nature of her duties requires her to reside there. The other teachers and the principal live in private housing.” In summary, “the residential use of the property was primary; the educational use was secondary. As a result, the property was not exempt.” Du Page County Board of Review v. Department of Revenue, 790 N.E.2d 918 (Ill. App. 2003).

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