(HARRISBURG, PA – February 5, 2020) Earlier today, the Independence Law Center filed a tax assessment appeal after the Monroe County Board of Assessment Revision determined that Calvary Chapel of Stroudsburg is subject to property taxes on both its building and its land. The PA constitution and state law provide that places of worship are not subject to taxation.
In a ruling on January 10, the County is demanding that Calvary Chapel pay taxes on the church’s property, in part because the County requires exemption paperwork to be filed by August 1. The church asked the County how to get the exemption and was instructed by the County to come back after they purchased the property. The problem was no one from the County tax office told them that the deadline would run the day after they purchased the property.
Not only should such unjust circumstances not be used against the church, but the church is entitled to exemption for all their property because it is used for religious purposes.
“Out of respect for the independence of religious entities, Pennsylvania exempts churches and other places of worship from property taxes,” said Curtis Schube, Legal Counsel for the Independence Law Center. “This is for good reason, as those who are exempted under the law are non-profit entities who provide value and service to the community. The Monroe County Board of Assessment Revision’s decision to tax a church is contrary to law and deprives the church of funds with which it would otherwise serve the community.”
The church’s hope is that as a result of this appeal, the Monroe County Board of Assessment Revision will change its policies and grant the church, as well as all churches in the county, the tax exemptions to which they are lawfully entitled.
Independence Law Center is a non-profit legal organization and civil rights law firm specializing in First Amendment issues.