Friday, September 30, 2011

Mission finally exempts churches from "driveway tax"

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 4:05 PM

You gotta fight for your right to be tax-exempt!
  • You gotta fight for your right to be tax-exempt!
More than a year after Mission announced that it would start assessing a transportation utility fee — colloquially known as a "driveway tax" — on homes and businesses and based on the traffic they create, the city has finally decided places of worship will not have to pay the fee. The collected fees will go toward road maintenance, so it made some logical sense that large businesses like Target stores and other places that generate many trips, including schools and churches, would pay for causing wear and tear on streets. But that didn't really jive with churches' non-profit status.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a group that litigates on behalf of religious organizations, sued for two churches which argued that the fee is nothing more than a tax with a contrived name. So, really, they said, Mission was taxing the churches, which are tax-exempt under state law, for having people come worship. The Star reports that the city council has at last been swayed, and churches will be exempted from the fee is the ADF drops its suit. The paper said that First Baptist Church of Mission and St. Pius X would have to cough up $970.77 and $1,685.19 respectively.

Everybody else in Mission will still have to chip in to the road repair fund, which the city says will average $72 per house. The fee takes effect October 10.

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