CA church wins court dispute over property tax

Church offering

A California court has ruled in favor of a church that objected to a property tax.

Valley Baptist Church is thankful that Marin County Superior court is respecting the constitutional rights of churches not to be taxed by their government, says Pacific Justice Instituteattorney Brad Dacus.

“This is a very important case,” he says, “not just for this church and the churches in this particular town of San Rafael. This is a major win for churches across the country.”

San Rafael operated with a voter-approved local property tax designed to fund paramedic services, but PJI argued that the tax was not legal according to the California state constitution. Everyone supports ambulance service, he says, but taxes have to be levied in a way that is legal and constitutional.

Dacus, Brad (PJI)“What the government can tax, the government can control,” he warns. “Our founding fathers understood that. We understand that.”

If San Rafael had won the case, Dacus predicts that other cities and states would have created similar taxes on church properties.

In addition to ruling the tax unconstitutional, the Marin court ordered that $13,544 be refunded to Valley Baptist Church, which the church had to produce as a condition for filing the lawsuit.

“The church is going to get their money back,” Dacus says, “and that’s very important in that we would not have complete and full justice unless they received every penny that they were wrongfully taxed by the city of San Rafael.”