Religious Exemptions

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  2. Frequently asked questions

Sections 4(b), 5, and 6 of article XIII and section 207 of the R&T Code allow exemptions to religious organizations that own property and exclusively use it to conduct worship services and other related religious activities (i.e. church operated schools of less than collegiate level, bible studies, weddings, etc.).

If another church uses the owner-operated church for worship services, the outside operator must apply for the religious exemption. If any other outside use is allowed on the property, the owner of the church and the operator will both need to file a welfare exemption claim.

The religious exemption is generally more desirable for church-owned property because of its one-time filing provision. Once the exemption has been granted, it is continuous until the owner of the property notifies the Assessor that the use of the property has changed, or a change of ownership has occurred. A "change in eligibility or termination card” and Property Use Report is sent annually in January to remind claimants of this obligation. This is a simplified process that eliminates the need for annual filing and the possibility of being assessed a late filing penalty. A maximum penalty and interest of $250 may apply if a church fails to notify the Assessor that an exemption should be terminated.

The initial claim form is a one-time requirement and the use is subject to a site inspection. The annual Change in Eligibility Notice and Property Use Report is not required to be returned unless there is a change in eligibility, however, a site inspection may be performed to verify continued use.