In re Liberty Assembly of God, No. 2011-368, 2012 WL 1836376 (N.H. May 22, 2012), concerned a church’s appeal of the decision of the state Board of Tax and Land Appeals (BTLA) that only 60 percent of its main church facility qualified as tax-exempt. BTLA ruled not tax-exempt (1) the portion of the first floor of the main church facility, consisting of an apartment and additional room, available for missionaries on furlough; (2) the second floor of the main church facility consisting of an apartment utilized by the church caretaker, a room occupied by the grandson of the church treasurer, vacant apartments, “dorm” rooms used for storage, and a men’s restroom; and (3) that proportion of five acres not currently in use (dedicated to agricultural or forestry purposes) around which there was a “prayer trail” equal to the proportion of the facilities not utilized. The relevant code section exempted from taxation “houses of public worship, parish houses, church parsonages occupied by their pastors, convents, monasteries, buildings and the lands appertaining to them owned, used and occupied directly for religious training or for other religious purposes ... .” The church argued that the italicized language modified exclusively the last category of property, whereas houses of public worship and four other categories of property were exempt regardless of use. The court rejected this interpretation and held that the legislative scheme puts the burden on the applicant for exemption in all cases to prove entitlement thereto ? even within a single facility. The court also rejected the church’s argument that examining the religious uses and purposes of each room inside its facility violates the Establishment Clause. The court emphasized that the BTLA never questioned the validity of the taxpayer’s religion, but instead simply evaluated its use. Last, the court rejected the church’s argument that all of the uses to which it put its property were religious, deferring instead to the findings of fact by the BTLA. The court found no record evidence that the church was “singled out” for disparate treatment.
Register Now As you are not an existing subscriber please register for your free daily legal newsfeed service.Register
If you have any questions about the service please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lexology Customer Services on +44 20 7234 0606.
Court grants tax exemption to 60 percent of church’s facilities
If you are interested in submitting an article to Lexology, please contact Andrew Teague at email@example.com.
“I enjoy the CLANZ newsstand and find it highly relevant to my job. I definitely have forwarded various articles to my colleagues on occasion where there is a point of general interest, particularly employment or IT law. I...
“I enjoy the CLANZ newsstand and find it highly relevant to my job. I definitely have forwarded various articles to my colleagues on occasion where there is a point of general interest, particularly employment or IT law. I really appreciate the service, it's a quick way for me to keep up to date in a way I wouldn't otherwise have time to.”