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-Kansas: Churches No Longer Subject to City ‘Driveway Tax’

by Dr. D ~ November 30th, 2011

Alliance Defense Fund

                             (Image via Wikipedia)

The city of Mission, Kansas is no longer going to subject churches and nonprofit organizations to the city’s ‘Driveway Tax.’  City officials settled a year-old lawsuit brought against it by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF).

The case revolved around a special “driveway tax” levied by the city against all property owners based on the total number of trips in and out of a business’s driveway.

The city administrators refused to allow for churches to be exempt from the tax and according to the lawsuit came up with a special method for calculating a church’s ‘driveway tax’ by actually penalizing church attendance:

City officials counted the seats in each church’s auditorium, then multiplied each seat by 5.8 trips per seat per week. Therefore, the more people who attended the church, and the more faithfully they went, the higher the church’s total tax.

Response: This is one of those cases that cities all around the country were watching. Many city administrators are trying to figure out ways to get more funds to pay their bills in the midst of recession. If Mission, Kansas succeeded legally in requiring churches to pay a ‘driveway tax’ then cities all across America would follow suit.

Fortunately lawyers from the the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) were able to persuade city officials that they were violating Constitutional law. Also, the funds required to satisfy the ‘tax’ were limiting the mission and outreach of churches in the city. In final analysis the settlement should benefit all sides.

Increasingly, cities in America are considering churches to be a burden of sorts particularly when they occupy areas that could be taken up by businesses which would contribute to the city coffers through sales and property taxes.

In times past, churches were considered to be assets to a community since they provided a moral foundation and a sense of community and identity. Cities today should recognize that churches provide needed programs for the youth and outreaches to the poor and elderly that you can’t really begin to calculate the true value of.            *Top

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