Saturday, September 21, 2013

Church Denied Relief On Denial of Property Tax Exemption

In Church of the Isaiah 58 Project of Arizona, Inc. v. La Paz County, Arizona, (AZ App., Sept. 12, 2013), an Arizona state appellate court affirmed the state tax court's dismissal of a church's suit for injunctive and declaratory relief after the church was wrongly denied a property tax exemption.  The county tax assessor had claimed that the only acceptable evidence for granting an exemption was an Internal Revenue Service Letter of Determination. For a subsequent year, however, the county accepted a letter from the Arizona Department of Revenue instead. The court held that the state's anti-injunction statute bars injunctive relief because taxing authorities acted under a "semblance of authority."  Also, declaratory relief was properly denied because the church did not pay the assessed taxes before filing suit.