Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

August 20, 2013

Should non-profits be allowed tax exemptions on rental properties?


Greensburg Daily News

---- — Dear Editor:

At the CCDFT public hearing, Mr. (Hershel) Houk stated, “I rent, and if the taxes go up, my rent will go up.”

While his rent may go up, according to the Decatur County website, the Greensburg Wesleyan Church owns the property and it is listed as 686 exempt, non-profit religious.

Looking at the parcel information, no property taxes (that is what the $0.00 stands for) were paid 2010-pay 2011, 2011 pay 2012 and 2012 pay 2013. That being said, I think Mr. Houk has raised a serious issue here.

I am writing letters to my elected officials in Indianapolis requesting that they close this “loophole” in the property tax law. While I completely support non-profit religious exemptions, that support is only for buildings and improvements that are used for a non-profit purpose.

If 704 West Main Street was the home of the pastor, or being used as the church, or being used for non-profit religious purposes, I would agree that they deserve an exemption from property taxes. But since 704 West Main Street is being used as a rental property, the church should be required to pay property taxes the same as everyone else in the rental and lease business.

Another example, the old St. Mary’s campus, had a church, rectory, school, educational/business center and office. All the improvements on the property were used for religious/educational non-profit purposes. All the improvements should be eligible for the property tax exemption.

However, for example, if St. Mary’s decided to start renting the rectory to a family, and the priest no longer lived there, then it would become rental property and should not be allowed the property tax exemption. If St. Mary’s started to rent the office building to a local business, then it would become rental property and should not be allowed the property tax exemption.

The same should hold true for any non-profit that rents or leases property to the general public. Non-profits should not be able to get the exemption on property they are renting out or leasing if the property is not being used for non-profit purposes.

They need to pay their fair share in property taxes to support the local community. If they want the exemption, then the property should be used for not-for-profit purposes or rented to another not-for-profit entity that can use the property for non-profit purposes.

I wish to thank Mr. Houk for bring this to my attention. I was unaware that non-profit churches could have rental property and make a profit from the rental property without having to pay property taxes. I don’t believe any non-profit should be able to rent or lease buildings to private individuals and families and be entitled to an exemption from property taxes.

Sincerely,

Richard Fayette

Greensburg resident and taxpayer