STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|CHRISTIAN CAMPUS HOUSE AT WEST PLAINS,||)|
|DANIEL FRANK, ASSESSOR||)|
|HOWELL COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the Howell County Board of Equalization (BOE) is SET ASIDE. Christian Campus House at West Plains (Complainant) presented substantial and persuasive evidence establishing the property is exempt under Article X, Section 6 of the Missouri Constitution.
Complainant is represented by counsel Charles C. Cantrell.
Daniel Franks, Assessor of Howell County, Missouri (Respondent) proceeding pro se.
Complainant appealed on the ground of exemption.
On April 19, 2018, parties agreed to submit the appeal on the record. Chief Counsel Maureen Monaghan (Hearing Officer) heard and decided the appeal.
|A||Certificate of Incorporation of a Missouri Nonprofit|
|B||Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation|
Ronald Antle testified on behalf of Complainant. He is the Treasurer of Christian Campus House of West Plains. It is organized for charitable, educational, religious, or scientific purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. He described the purpose of the organization as a “24-7” ministry for the college youth. Their mission statement is to “provide a caring fellowship where college age people can find and expand their relationship with God and learn to be doers of the Word.” (Exhibit B) Complainant is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in the State of Missouri. (Exhibit A)
The parcel has three improvements a house, a garage, and a pavilion. The house is a residence for the minister. The garage has been converted to a space suitable for office/counseling services. The pavilion is an open shelter. The minister provides Bible lessons, counseling and worship services on the property. The counseling occurs in both the house and converted garage. The worship services and bible study occur in the pavilion when weather permits.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission (STC) from the decision of the BOE.
- Identification of Subject Property. The subject property is located at 802 West Main Street, West Plains, Missouri. The property is identified by map parcel number 15-4.0-20-004-040-001-00000.
- Description of Subject Property. The subject property has three improvements: (1) house; (2) garage; and (3) pavilion.
- Purpose of Complainant. Complainant’s purpose is “to provide a caring fellowship where college age people can find and expand their relationship with God and to be doers of the Word.” Complainant achieves its purpose by providing bible study, worship services, counseling and activities at the subject property.
- Taxation of the Property. The evidence was substantial and persuasive to establish the property qualifies as exempt under Article X, Section 6 of the Missouri Constitution.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION
The Commission has jurisdiction to hear this appeal and correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious. The Hearing Officer shall issue a decision and order affirming, modifying or reversing the determination of the BOE, and correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious. Article X, Section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, 138.431.4, RSMo.
Presumption In Appeal
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County BOE. Hermel, Inc. v. STC, 564 S.W.2d 888, 895 (Mo. banc 1978); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650, 656 (Mo. 1968); May Department Stores Co. v. STC, 308 S.W.2d 748, 759 (Mo. 1958). This presumption is a rebuttable rather than a conclusive presumption. The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer presents substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that the Board’s valuation is erroneous and what the fair market value should have been placed on the property. Hermel, supra; Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).
Tax exemptions are not favored in the law and statutes granting exemptions are to be strictly, yet reasonably, construed against the one claiming the exemption. Missouri Church of Scientology v. State Tax Commission, 560 S.W.2d 837, 844 (Mo. Banc 1987), State ex rel. Union Electric Co. v. Goldberg, 578 SW2d 921,923 (Mo. Banc 1979). The legal authority for property tax exemptions is located in Article X, Section 6, of the Missouri Constitution and at Section 137.100, RSMo. The exemptions include:
…all property, real and personal, not held for private or corporate profit and used exclusively for religious worship, for schools and colleges, for purposes purely charitable, or for agricultural and horticultural societies…. Article X, Section 6, of the Missouri Constitution.
The legal test for a religious exemption is whether:
(1) the primary and inherent use of the property is for “religious worship”. “Religious worship” embodies as a minimum requirement a belief in a Supreme Being and references the rituals, customs, and practices required or believed necessary to carry out the faith’s belief in its Supreme Being; and
(2) the property is owned and operated on a not-for-profit basis.
CSCEA v. Nelson, 898 S.W.2d 547, 549 (Mo. banc 1995); Missouri Church of Scientology v. State Tax Commission, 560 S.W.2d 837, 842 (Mo. banc 1978); Temple Emanuel v. Morton, STC #88-11774.
I Primary and Inherent Use of the Property for Religious Worship
Substantial and persuasive evidence was presented that the primary and inherent use of the property is for religious worship. Complainant uses this property “to provide a caring fellowship where college age people can find and expand their relationship with God and to be doers of the Word.” Complainant achieves its purpose by providing a minister-in-residence to lead Bible study and worship services. The minister also counsels the youth at the property.
II Owned and Operated on a Not-for-Profit Basis
The property must be owned and operated on a not-for-profit basis. Complainant is a nonprofit organization incorporated by the State of Missouri and is organized within the meaning of Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service.
The property “must be dedicated unconditionally to the charitable activity in such a way that there will be no profit, presently or prospectively, to individuals or corporations. Any gain achieved in use of the building must be devoted to achievement of the charitable objectives of the project.” Franciscan Tertiary Province v. State Tax Commission, 566 S.W.2d 213, at 224 (Mo. banc 1978). Complainant provides services at the property at no charge.
The determination by the BOE for the tax year 2017 is SET ASIDE. Christian Campus House at West Plains (Complainant) presented substantial and persuasive evidence establishing the property is exempt under Article X, Section 6 of the Missouri Constitution.
Application for Review
A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the Certificate of Service for this Decision. The application shall contain specific facts or law as grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous. Said application must be in writing addressed to the State Tax Commission of Missouri, P.O. Box 146, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146, and a copy of said application must be sent to each person at the address listed below in the certificate of service.
Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the application for review is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432, RSMo
The Collector of Howell County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall continue to hold the disputed taxes pending the possible filing of an Application for Review, unless said taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of Section 139.031.8, RSMo.
Any Finding of Fact which is a Conclusion of Law or Decision shall be so deemed. Any Decision which is a Finding of Fact or Conclusion of Law shall be so deemed.
SO ORDERED this 11th day of May, 2018.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been sent electronically or mailed postage prepaid this 11th day of May, 2018 to: Complainants(s) counsel and/or Complainant, the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.