California church wins round 1 in tax fight

Round One in a dispute over property taxes in San Rafael, California, has gone to the Valley Baptist Church.

A judge has rejected the city’s claim that its “special tax” is not a “property tax,” because it is applied only on property with non-residential structures in the city.

That means the case brought by Valley Baptist Church now can be heard on its merits, says the Pacific Justice Institute, which is defending the church.

“This is a huge victory for churches all over California,” said Brad Dacus, president of PJI. “If all a city has to do to tax churches in the state is call a proposed tax on real property a ‘special tax,’ place it on a local ballot and get two-thirds of the city’s voters to approve it, then the city has effectively found a way to get around California’s constitutional and statutory provisions protecting church property from taxation.

“That would

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