Do Tax Assessors Decide What is "Necessary" for Religious Worship & Instruction?

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Aaron Blumer's picture


There's really no way around a bit of this kind of evaluation, though in the case of the IRS the criteria are actually pretty objective. The reason it's unavoidable is this:

  • There is a legal standard for what constitutes a tax-exempt religious body
  • An assessor must determine whether an organization claiming that exemption meets the standard

When you get down to the municipal level, there is, of course, a good bit of variation and I'm sure there are cities that are going about this in a way that is unconstitutional (and otherwise not legally compliant), either in the standard they've set or their process for evaluating claims of organizations that they meet the standard--or both. So periodically cases surface that end up being decided in the courts.

Churches in these situations should seek out highly skilled (and minimally political) legal representation to see if they are being treated legally and constitutionally and try to get it resolved from that point.