A church is suing a California city over a tax, alleging it amounts to an unfair and illegal taxation.
San Rafael, California has a Paramedic Services Special Tax that applies to, among other things, church properties. But attorney Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute says that's not legal.
PJI is representing Valley Baptist Church (VBC), which filed a lawsuit last September in Marin County Superior Court asking that the city's tax be declared invalid as applied to the church under the California Constitution.
"The city of San Rafael is trying in an unprecedented way to effectively tax churches," Dacus says. "It's a property tax, and in the state of California based on state law and the state constitution, you cannot legally tax churches much less tax them in a different way than based upon appraised value."
San Rafael sought to have VBC's case thrown out of court but the court sided with VBC and the case is proceeding.
The new law does not describe it as a property tax but Dacus argues it's the same thing.
"This new law decides to tax churches by saying it's not a property tax," Dacus continues. "Instead we're going to tax based on the number of square footage in the building."
Dacus contends the Valley Baptist Church lawsuit is about more than one church because he is concerned that other liberal "blue" communities could see an opportunity to attempt to take money from churches and even use taxes to shut them down.