Illegally imposed taxes threaten to close church

Friday, November 30, 2012
 | 
Bob Kellogg (OneNewsNow.com)

A small Arizona church is facing illegally assessed property taxes that would force it out of existence if paid.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Erik Stanley is defending the church in the Arizona Court of Appeals. He says the assessor was demanding a 501(c)3 letter, something not required by either state or federal laws. He says he has no idea why the assessor would demand that.

Stanley, Erik (ADF)"This is something the assessor came up with, and our point in the lawsuit is that the assessor is not allowed to kind of graft on an additional requirement to tax-emption statutes," he tells OneNewsNow. "Churches need to be treated as the legislature specifies they be treated."

The Arizona Tax Court says the church should have paid the taxes before taking the case to court. But Stanley says that is not possible.

"Especially, considering the fact that in this case if the church were to pay the taxes, that would mean it would have to close down its ministry, stop its free exercise of religion, and sell off its assets simply to pay the taxes because it can't afford to do so," he explains.

The tax bill is about $50,000, which approximately equals the church's budget for the entire year.

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