A church is in a California courtroom today to argue a new tax is unfair and illegal.
San Rafael has a Paramedic Services Special Tax that applies to, among other things, church properties. But attorney Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute says the city can't legally do that.
"The state constitution for California as well as state statutes make it very clear that churches cannot be issued property taxes," says Dacus. "So the city of San Rafael is trying to get around that with a special property tax based on square footage of buildings."
PJI is representing Valley Baptist Church (VBC), which filed a lawsuit in September in Marin County Superior Court asking that the city's tax be declared invalid as applied to the church under the California Constitution.
"They're really singling out churches," Dacus claims, "and in fact Valley Baptist Church had to come up with $13,000 or their doors would be shut."
He calls that "outrageous" and warns that other cities could learn from San Rafael and tax churches if the Valley Baptist loses its case.