Lawsuit Could Set Precedent for Extent of Church Tax Exemptions

A South Nashville megachurch’s fight against paying a $425,000 property tax bill could have major implications for churches throughout the state whose facilities include not only sanctuaries and classrooms, but also stores and athletic facilities, according to The Tennessean
When Christ Church, which has 2,600 members and is on Old Hickory Boulevard, built the 110,000-square-foot Hardwick Activities Center in 2004, it had to reapply for its tax-exempt status. A government property assessor who toured the facility in 2007 determined that a bookstore, cafe, fitness center and gymnasium operated like businesses open to the general public and denied a tax exemption for those portions of the facility.
Arguing that the facilities are used in ministry and integral to the church’s mission, the church has been engaged in a legal battle ever since. In 2009, the church won a small victory when an administrative law judge decided the gymnasium should be taxed only at 50 percent. Friday, the church, armed with lawyers from the conservative Arizona-based Christian legal group The Alliance Defense Fund, took its case to Davidson County Chancery Court and argued that its constitutional rights are being violated.
…In response, Assistant Metropolitan Attorney Jeff Campbell noted that state law exempts “purely” religious activities from taxation and argued that a bookstore that charged retail prices and a fitness center that charged annual fees didn’t qualify. Campbell noted that the bookstore sold items such as a portrait of former President George W. Bush and Naomi’s Guide to Aging Gratefully, a best-seller authored by Naomi Judd, and that fitness center activities were not religious in nature.
…Chancellor Carol McCoy did not decide the case Friday and will issue a written order at a later date.

2 thoughts on “Lawsuit Could Set Precedent for Extent of Church Tax Exemptions

  1. rocket

    How about so called evangelists who receive “love offerings” in the thousands and use their tax exempt status for a non-profit religious organization? They will answer at the Judgment Seat of Christ for that one day.

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