Friday, October 09, 2009

San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese Battles City Over Transfer Tax Liability

The San Francisco Bay Guardian reports on a hearing yesterday before the city's Transfer Tax Review Board. At issue is somewhere between $3 million and $15 million in transfer taxes that the city says are due from the San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese as a result of its transfer last year of some 233 properties to two new Catholic non-profit holding companies. According to yesterday's SF Appeal, apparently the properties were transferred to shield them from judgments in any future clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. The Archdiocese says the transfers are not subject to tax because, as transfers from one Catholic entity to another, they qualify as "gifts" under canon law. In an earlier statement, the Archdiocese claimed that the law treats these as properties of the Church, and that the transfers between religious corporations are seen as merely conveniences to assist the Church in holding title. Church supporters say that paying these transfer taxes could cripple other Church programs. Some suggest that attempts by San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting to impose the tax is retaliation for the Church's support of Proposition 8 (banning gay marriage) last year. [Thanks to PewSitter for the lead.]