Life Center at Southport – Home of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple
Indianapolis Baptist Temple Wins Tax Case Again
By Dr. Greg J. Dixon
Not only was Feb. 8 a great day for America and the entire world with the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States but, also a great day for Religious Liberty, as the Indianapolis Baptist Temple won their tax case before the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTBOA) in the state of Indiana. This is the fourth time that they have had to fight this battle, but with God’s help and some good sensible people on the appeals boards, the church has prevailed each time.
At this highest level, the PTBOA unanimously granted the exemption for 2016, and gave instructions to not bring this issue back to them in the future unless something has changed. While they were at it, they also told the assessor to work with us to stipulate the 2015 exemption to also be approved, which had been denied, so the church can dismiss the appeal that had been filed with the Indiana Board of Tax Review. This is a great victory for Christ and His churches. For this we give all Glory to God.
Attorney David Retherford of Indianapolis deserves credit for his excellent work in presenting legal and constitutional arguments before the board once again as he has patiently done in the past.
At this juncture, a little historical background is necessary to bring this case into focus. In the State of Indiana, with the exception of unregistered churches, all churches must have a determination letter from the IRS to get property tax-exemption. However, property that is leased to churches for worship is not tax-exempt. The owner must pay the property tax. When the Indianapolis Baptist Temple leased their present property, after the feds destroyed their property in 2001, the Marion County assessor’s office agreed to allow the owner to receive the benefit of tax-exemption on the property, which in itself a miracle, saving the church hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, as the scripture says, “…another king arose who knew not Joseph,” and new people were elected to office in the assessor’s office in Indianapolis. They didn’t feel that they were bound by the agreements of the past, and decided to enforce the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law, and immediately moved to tax the owners who passed the huge sum on to the church. As we said earlier this is the fourth time now that the church has had to fight off this battle.
One of the things that made it more difficult for the Baptist Temple to win was the fact that a large church on the North side of Indianapolis fought this battle all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court and lost. Then, they solved their problem by just simply purchasing property and filing the exemption. Why didn’t they do that in the first place and not take a chance on losing the case. But that is another story.
In time, this victory will no doubt be of great benefit to all churches that lease property in the State of Indiana, and hopefully throughout the nation. We must not just roll over to these that would snatch religious liberty away from us, but fight them at every turn. In this case, it is no small victory in that it involves great sums of money that will be used for the spreading of the gospel rather than going into the coffers of the state to finance every humanistic, socialistic and atheistic cause known to man, especially the murder of millions of unborn defenseless infants, the destruction of the Christian faith and the demise of our great nation. This issue must not seem important in the great scheme of other things, but remember the old story about the little Dutch boy that put his thumb in the hole in the dyke. Just a little boy, just a little hole, but he saved an entire city.