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ADF-allied attorney available to media following arguments at Ohio Supreme Court

Master commissioner will hear arguments involving taxation of church property while other charitable organizations allowed to be exempt
Published On: 10/18/2017

WHO: ADF-allied attorney David Kennedy

WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Church of God in Northern Ohio v. Wilkins

WHEN: Tuesday, Aug. 25, immediately following hearing, which begins at 9 a.m. EDT

WHERE: Ohio Supreme Court, 65 S. Front St., North Hearing Room, First Floor, Columbus


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney David Kennedy will be available for media interviews following his oral arguments before a master commissioner at the Ohio Supreme Court in a lawsuit involving a church being taxed on a type of property for which some other charitable organizations are not taxed.

“Religious institutions should not be taxed differently than other charitable organizations, such as the Girl Scouts and the Visiting Nurses,” said Kennedy. “It’s the job of the tax board to fairly apply the rules for tax exemption to charitable organizations, and that’s all we are asking for in this case. It’s beyond the board’s authority to pick and choose which charities qualify for exemption and which ones don’t.”

The Church of God in Northern Ohio built an office building in Bath Township in 2002 to house the regional administrative offices for the regional bishop and his staff. The property is used exclusively in furtherance of the organization’s charitable purpose of promoting the cause of the Christian religion, including training and planning for pastors and missionaries, development of children’s education programs, and strategic planning for community outreach efforts.


The church applied for real estate tax exemption under a state statute that authorizes exemption for property owned by charitable institutions that is used exclusively in furtherance of the organization’s non-profit charitable purposes. The tax commissioner denied the request, and the Board of Tax Appeals affirmed the denial. The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled in the past that the administrative offices for charitable institutions like the Girls Scouts and the Visiting Nurses are exempt from real estate taxation.


“Charitable organizations can’t run without people and facilities. It’s silly to say, as the board has, that ‘administrative functions’ cannot fulfill a charitable purpose. It’s also at odds with how the board has ruled in other cases,” Kennedy explained. “The Ohio Supreme Court has clearly and concisely stated a simple test for determining tax exemption. The church meets that test, but the tax board has simply chosen not to apply it. The board isn’t at liberty to ignore the plain reading of the statute and what the state’s highest court has determined.”

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. | 

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