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Maine Town Levies Parking Lot Tax on Church

  • Religion Today
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  • 2012 May 07
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May 7, 2012

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a church in Rockland, Me., saying the county assessor is unconstitutionally applying a state law regarding property taxes and charitable organizations, WORLD News Service reports. State law grants property tax exemptions to all charitable organizations, but Aldersgate United Methodist Church only received an exemption for its building -- not its parking lot or parsonage. In a brief filed with the Board of Assessment Review, the city attorney wrote, "Were Aldersgate also entitled to exemption as a charitable and benevolent organization, the entire property would be exempt from taxation." That view, says ADF, violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. "Churches shouldn't live in fear of being targeted by the government in ways other groups aren't," said ADF senior legal counsel Joel Oster. In addition to worship services, Aldersgate allows the community to use its facilities for several purposes, and according to the Bangor Daily News, the Rockland Board of Assessment Review rejected the church's request for tax abatement last year.