Main | Monday, January 19, 2009

Tax Man Assesses Extra $15M For SF Catholic Church, Wingnuts Cry Foul

Last year the Catholic diocese in San Francisco reorganized their real estate holdings, prompting city tax assessors to deem the move a "sale" and therefore subject to $15M in property transfer taxes. Wingnuts are crying foul, claiming the city is retaliating against the church for supporting Proposition 8. From the Christianist news service, LifeSite:
Assessor Phil Ting concluded that the Catholic Church owed the city taxes after the archdiocese was restructured and its property, which is almost all used by parish facilities, was consolidated seven months ago. "Because we knew the accusations (of unfair treatment) could be out there, we worked to look at every single document so we could totally and completely understand their argument," Ting said. "We looked at all the various exemptions that could have been applied, and we felt that none of them were applicable in this case. That meant it was our determination that this was a taxable event."

Ting claimed that because the restructuring involved "separate legal entities," it was "not just a cosmetic" change and therefore liable to be taxed. The archdiocese immediately filed legal action and questioned the precedent for Ting's decision. "San Francisco Recorder Phil Ting has taken a step that is unprecedented in the history of the state of California. He has determined that an internal reorganization of church property, within the family of corporations of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, constitutes a 'sale' and is subject to a property transfer tax," archdiocese spokesman Maurice Healy told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"A tax on transfers of property, all owned by the Catholic Church, within the same family of Archdiocesan corporations, is unprecedented in the history of the state of California and the law is overwhelmingly in our favor on this subject," said Healy. Many are decrying the move as retaliation for the church's support of California's same-sex "marriage" ban, as pro-homosexual “marriage” San Francisco residents and politicians have made no secret of their ire at the Catholic Church and other religious groups for supporting Proposition 8.

"This is fishy at the least and evil at the most," Randy Thomasson of California's Campaign for Children and Families told "Phil Ting is doing to the Catholic Church what has not been done in other venues, taking away the Church's tax-exempt status in regards to property.”
Over on Free Republic, commenters have uncovered numerous photos of SF tax man Phil Ting appearing at various LGBT rights rallies as "proof" of his retaliation.

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