Wednesday, March 27, 2013

State Appeals Court Upholds Taxation Of Part of Church's Family Life Center

In Christ Church Pentecostal v. Tennessee State Board of Equalization, (TN App., March 21, 2013), the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld a determination by the State Board of Equalization that a portion of a church's multi-million dollar family life center is not exempt from property taxes. The court agreed that the physical fitness center/gymnasium is entitled to only a 50% exemption because it is open for public use on a membership fee basis in addition to its church-oriented uses. It agreed that the center's cafe/bookstore is not entitled to any exemption because it is retail in nature and not used for religious purposes. The court also rejected free exercise, Establishment Clause and equal protection challenges to the tax rulings.