Tag Archives: property tax exemption

Texas Property Tax Law, Booklet, Form, and Sales Tax Law and Forms

This page links to resources and gives excerpts from resources, to include some cases in the Endnote, and is not a legal analysis of any law or the constitutionality thereof.

Texas Property Tax Exemption for Religious Organizations

Texas Constitution, Article 8, Section 2

Texas Tax Code – TAX § 11.20. Religious Organizations

Texas Property Tax Assistance Website (forms, video etc.)

Handbook of Texas Property Tax Rules (April 2018)

Texas Property Tax Exemptions [Click link to download the booklet.]

Brief list of and notes on cases – See Endnote

Sales Tax Exemption for Religious Organizations

The exemption for religious organizations is provided for in Sections 151.310, 156.102 and 171.058 of the Texas Tax Code,
and more detailed information can be found in Comptroller’s Rules 3.322, 3.161, 3.541 and 3.583.

AP-209 Application for Exemption – Religious Organizations

Included on that form is the following statement: ” Special note to unincorporated entities: Include your organization’s governing documents, such as the bylaws or constitution.”


Endnote

904 S.W.2d 621 (1995), CORPUS CHRISTI PEOPLE’S BAPTIST CHURCH, INC., Petitioner, v. NUECES COUNTY APPRAISAL DISTRICT et al., Respondents. No. D-4333. Supreme Court of Texas. Argued October 20, 1994. May 25, 1995. Rehearing Overruled September 14, 1995. [History of property tax exemption. See I. below for excerpt]

194 S.W.3d 501 (2006); CAMERON APPRAISAL DISTRICT, Petitioner, v. Thora O. ROURK, et al., Respondents. No. 04-0359. Supreme Court of Texas. June 2, 2006. [Regarding administrative procedures for contesting property taxes]

846 S.W.2d 554 (1993) BEXAR COUNTY APPRAISAL REVIEW BOARD, et al., Appellants, v. FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, et al., Appellees. No. 04-89-00543-CV. Court of Appeals of Texas, San Antonio. January 20, 1993. Rehearing Denied January 20, 1993. {Good on Walz, etc. “We consider first the district’s contention that the exemption violates the Texas Constitution, which mandates a tax exemption for “actual places of religious worship” and states that “all laws exempting property from taxation other than the property mentioned in this Section shall be null and void.” Tex. Const, art. VIII, § 2. The district argues that the parking lot at issue in this case is not an actual place of religious worship, and that to exempt it from property taxation goes beyond article eight, § 2 and is void.”]

“For purposes of the tax exemption, a place of religious worship includes not only the sanctuary, but also those grounds and structures surrounding the sanctuary which are necessary for the use and enjoyment of the church.” [See the dissent for good info.]  City of Austin v. University Christian Church, 768 S.W.2d 718, 719 (Tex.1988).[3]

I.

904 S.W.2d 621 (1995), CORPUS CHRISTI PEOPLE’S BAPTIST CHURCH, INC., Petitioner, v. NUECES COUNTY APPRAISAL DISTRICT et al., Respondents. No. D-4333. Supreme Court of Texas. Argued October 20, 1994. May 25, 1995. Rehearing Overruled September 14, 1995.

This case involved a late application made after the application law was enacted. The case gave a brief history of the application law:

I.

Taxes are imposed upon real property each year as of January 1. Tex.Tax Code § 21.02. On that date a lien authorized by article VIII, section 15 of the Texas Constitution attaches to the property to secure their payment. Id. § 32.01. The amount of taxes assessed is not determined until later in the year, however, when appraisals have been completed and tax rates set. Id. §§ 26.01 & 26.05. Tax bills must be mailed by October 1 of the year for which taxes are assessed, or as soon thereafter as practicable. Id. § 31.01. Taxes are due upon receipt of the bill, and if not paid by February 1 of the following year, the taxing unit may sue to collect the tax and foreclose its lien. Id. §§ 31.02 & 33.41.

Article VIII, section 2(a) of the Texas Constitution authorizes the Legislature to exempt the property of religious organizations from taxation, and the Legislature has exercised this authority. Id. § 11.20. To be entitled to the exemption, however, a religious organization, like certain others claiming tax exemptions, must apply to the chief appraiser in the district where the property 623*623 is located before May 1 of the first year for which the tax exemption is claimed. Id. § 11.43(a), (c) & (d). Application for the exemption in subsequent years need not be made unless the chief appraiser requires it. Id. § 11.43(c).

An application for exemption was first required of religious organizations in 1982, after section 11.43 of what was then the new Tax Code took effect. Act of May 26, 1979, 66th Leg., R.S., ch. 841, § 3(a), 1979 Tex. Gen.Laws 2217, 2313. Before 1980, under the prior law, the procedure for claiming the exemption was for a religious organization to file with the taxing authority a sworn, itemized list of exempt property. Act approved May 14, 1931, 42nd Leg., R.S., ch. 124, § 1, 1931 Tex.Gen.Laws 211, 211-12 (formerly TEX.REV.CIV.STAT.ANN. art. 7150(1)). This statute was repealed, effective January 1, 1980, by the enactment of the new Tax Code. Act of May 26, 1979, 66th Leg., R.S., ch. 841, §§ 3(f) & 6(d), 1979 Tex.Gen.Laws 2217, 2315, 2330. The religious organization exemption under section 11.20 of the new Tax Code, which simply carried over from the prior law, became effective on January 1, 1980, along with other parts of the new Code. Act of May 26, 1979, 66th Leg., R.S., ch. 841, § 3(f), 1979 Tex.Gen.Laws 2217, 2315. As already noted, however, this was two years before the effective date of section 11.43, governing applications for exemption. Thus, in 1980 and 1981 a religious organization was not required to file a list of property, make application, or do anything else to claim the property tax exemption.

The requirement of an application and the deadline for filing that application appear to have caught religious organizations and other tax-exempt persons unaware, with the result that some lost their exemption because they did not timely apply for it. See House Comm. ON WAYS & MEANS, BILL ANALYSIS, Tex.H.B. 835, 73rd Leg., R.S. (1993) (explaining the reason for the twelve-year extension enacted in 1993, which also applies to the six-year extension enacted three years earlier.) In response, the Legislature in 1990 enacted section 11.433, effective September 6, 1990, which states:

  • 11.433. Late Application for Religious Organization Exemption

(a) The chief appraiser shall accept and approve or deny an application for an exemption under Section 11.20 [for religious organizations] after the filing deadline provided by Section 11.43 if the application is filed not later than December 31 of the sixth year after the year in which the taxes for which the exemption is claimed were imposed.

(b) The chief appraiser may not approve a late application for an exemption filed under this section if the taxes imposed on the property for the year for which the exemption is claimed are paid before the application is filed.

(c) If a late application is approved after approval of the appraisal records for the year for which the exemption is granted, the chief appraiser shall notify the collector for each taxing unit in which the property was taxable in the year for which the exemption is granted. The collector shall deduct from the organization’s tax bill the amount of tax imposed on the property for that year if the tax has not been paid and any unpaid penalties and accrued interest relating to that tax. The collector may not refund taxes, penalties, or interest paid on the property for which an exemption is granted under this section.

(d) The chief appraiser may grant an exemption for property pursuant to an application filed under this section only if the property otherwise qualified for the exemption under the law in effect on January 1 of the tax year for which the exemption is claimed.

(e) An application may not be filed under this section after December 31, 1991.

Act of June 6, 1990, 71st Leg., 6th C.S., ch. 8, § 1, 1990 Tex.Gen.Laws 46. This is the provision at issue in this case. In 1993, the late application deadline was further extended when subsection (e) was amended to read as follows:

(e) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), the chief appraiser shall accept and approve or deny an application for an exemption under Section 11.20 after the filing deadline provided by Section 11.43 if the application 624*624 is filed not later than December 31 of the 12th year after the year in which the taxes for which the exemption is claimed were imposed and if the application is filed before January 1, 1995. This subsection expires January 1, 1996.

Act of May 30, 1993, 73rd Leg., R.S., ch. 971, § 1, 1993 Tex.Gen.Laws 4235. Section 11.433 does not extend the time for applying for an exemption if the taxes have already been paid, nor does it permit refunds.

Section 11.433 is similar to two other statutes enacted in 1991 permitting late applications for tax exemptions, although the permission granted by those two statutes has now expired. TEX.TAX CODE § 11.434 (six-year extension for school exemption until December 31, 1992); § 11.435 (two-year extension for charitable organization exemption until December 31, 1991); Act of May 27, 1991, 72nd Leg., R.S., ch. 836, §§ 6.3 & 6.4, 1991 Tex.Gen.Laws 2890, 2894-95. The Legislature has also extended the deadline for claiming a homestead exemption for a year after taxes are paid or become delinquent. Tex.Tax Code § 11.431. Section 11.431, unlike sections 11.433-.435, appears to have been motivated by constitutional concerns. See Op.Tex. Att’y Gen. MW-259 (1980) (“A legislatively designated cutoff date for homestead exemption claims under article VIII, section 1-b of the Texas Constitution will not alone operate to deprive a taxpayer of an exemption …”); see also Op.Tex. Att’y Gen. JM-221 (1984) (section 11.431 permits tax refunds when homestead application is filed late).

 

KOPSOMBUT-MYINT BUDDHIST CENTER, v. STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, 728 S.W. 2d 327 (1986) Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Middle Section, at Nashville. Permission to Appeal Denied, April 6, 1987

First, below is a brief statement of relevant matters in the case, with the most important – for church organization purposes – point(s), then, a more extensive summary below that.

KOPSOMBUT-MYINT BUDDHIST CENTER, v. STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, 728 S.W. 2d 327 (1986) Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Middle Section, at Nashville. Permission to Appeal Denied, April 6, 1987.

Point of importance. Property held in trust qualifies for a property tax exemption, if the property is used for religious purposes and the owner, any stockholder, officer, member or employee of such institution is not lawfully entitled to receive and pecuniary profit from the operations of that property in competition with like property owned by others which is not exempt. Property held in trust and which otherwise qualifies for the exemption is to be exempted from property tax.

Two members of a Buddhist organization formed a joint venture and bought property for a Buddhist organization. They requested a property tax exemption. The agency held that no property tax exemption applied. However, the appeals court, among other things, implied that an oral “trust” was created since joint venturers could not profit from the venture. The court stated: “A valid trust need not be in writing. It can be created orally unless the language of the written conveyance excludes the existence of a trust. The existence of a trust requires proof of three elements: (1) a trustee who holds trust property and who is subject to the equitable duties to deal with it for the benefit of another, (2) a beneficiary to whom the trustee owes the equitable duties to deal with the trust property for his benefit, and (3) identifiable trust property.” The court further held, contrary to the holding below, that the Buddhist Temple can be deemed to be the “owner” of the property for the purpose of obtaining a tax exemption.

KOPSOMBUT-MYINT BUDDHIST CENTER, v. STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, 728 S.W. 2d 327 (1986) Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Middle Section, at Nashville. Permission to Appeal Denied, April 6, 1987 (Click this link to go to the entire case online)

(Two members of a Buddhist organization formed a joint venture and bought property for a Buddhist organization. They requested a property tax exemption. The appeals court, among other things, implied that a “trust” was created.)

IV. The Temple’s Entitlement to an Exemption

… “There has been a great deal of litigation construing Tenn. Code. Ann. 67-5-212(a)(1)’s requirement that property must be owned and used for religious purposes in order to be exempt. However, there has been little litigation concerning the nature of the entity that will qualify as a religious institution entitled to claim a tax exemption. Thus, our analysis is government by general property tax principles” The court then stated that the property had been used for religi ous purposes [in 1982].

A. The Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center’s 1982 Exemption

The Assessment Appeals Commission found that the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center had not met the requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-5-212(a)(1) for two reasons. First, the Commission stated:

The restriction in the statute precludes ownership by an individual or individuals and by implication suggests ownership which has a foundation by law, whether the mode of its operation be by way of legislative enactment, a corporation or a trust, but imposing always an irrevocable use of the property for exempt purposes.

Second, the Commission held:

The property was acquired by Myint and Kopsombut in December 1981; the joint venture was not formalized until almost a year later on November 12, 1982 at which time a written agreement was drawn that went into substantial detail about the duties of Myint and Kopsombut, the events of default, the transfer of the property and profit or loss. It appears that the conditions placed on the two parties by the agreement in November may have had the effect of forming a trust whereas Myint and Kopsombut acted as trustees for the Buddhist Center. Until this formulation of the restrictions set out in the agreement, the joint venture was an association of two men who had equal right of control over the property. The fact that the individuals did not exercise this right is of no consequence nor is the altruistic intentions of the joint venturers. Either party or both who wished to transfer his interest in the property could have done so with impunity.

These findings indicate that the Commission denied Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center’s 1982 exemption simply because the joint venture agreement had not been reduced to writing prior to the beginning of 1982. We infer that the Commission reasoned that until Myint and Kopsombut executed this agreement there was no binding, irrevocable commitment to hold and use the property for exempt purposes. We disagree. In fact, all the evidence is to the contrary.

A valid trust need not be in writing. It can be created orally unless the language of the written conveyance excludes the existence of a trust. Sanderson v. Milligan, 585 S.W.2d S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Linder v. Little, 490 S.W.2d 717, 723 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1972); and Adrian v. Brown, 29 Tenn. App. 236, 243, 196 S.W.2d 118, 121 (1946). However, when a party seeks to establish an oral trust, it must do so by greater than a preponderance of the evidence. Sanderson v. Milligan, 585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Hunt v. Hunt,169 Tenn. 1, 9, 80 S.W.2d 666, 669 (1935); and Browder v. Hite, 602 S.W.2d 489, 493 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1980).

The existence of a trust requires proof of three elements: (1) a trustee who holds trust property and who is subject to the equitable duties to deal with it for the benefit of another, (2) a beneficiary to whom the trustee owes the equitable duties to deal with the trust property for his benefit, and (3) identifiable trust property. See G.G. Bogert & G.T. Bogert, The Law of Trusts and Trustees § 1, at 6 (rev. 2d ed. 1984) and Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 2 comment h (1957). We find that the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center has proved the existence of each of these elements by clear and convincing evidence.

Both the November, 1982 agreement embodying the parties’ commitments when the property was purchased in December, 1981 and Mr. Myint’s uncontradicted testimony show that Kopsombut and Myint intended to create a joint venture that would acquire the Treutland Street property and hold it in trust for Nashville’s Buddhist Community. They agreed to restrict their interest in the property by agreeing to receive no profits of any sort and to convey the property only to The Buddhist Temple when it was incorporated. These oral agreements are sufficient to establish an enforceable trust in the Treutland Street property in favor of the temple which came into effect when the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center purchased the property from the House of Prayer and Praise, Inc.

The trial court’s reason for denying the 1982 exemption differed from the Assessment Appeals Commission. It relied upon the portion of Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-5-212(a)(4) that states

“But the property of such institution shall not be exempt if the owner, or any stockholder, officer, member or employee of such institution shall receive or may be lawfully entitled to receive any pecuniary profit from the operations of that property in competition with like property owned by others which is not exempt.”

The trial court concluded that Myint and Kopsombut could have received profits from this transaction merely because they formed a joint venture to acquire the Treutland Street property. We disagree with this conclusion. A joint venture is inherently neither a for-profit entity nor a not-for-profit entity. Its nature depends upon the nature of the persons forming it and the purposes for which it was formed.

We should look to the substance of an arrangement rather than its form when we are construing Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-5-212. See National Music Camp v. Green Lake Township, 76 Mich. App. 608, 257 N.W.2d 188, 191 (1977). We have already determined that the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center was holding the Treutland Street property in trust for The Buddhist Temple pursuant to an oral trust agreement. It is the character of the beneficiary of the trust, not the trustee, that determines the availability of an exemption. National Bank of Burlington v. Huneke, 250 Iowa 1030, 98 N.W.2d 7, 11 (1959).

There is no question that the beneficiary of the trust, The Buddhist Temple, is a religious institution. As the owner of the equitable interest in the property, The Buddhist Temple can be deemed to be the “owner” of the property for the purpose of obtaining a tax exemption. See Hahn v. County of Walworth, 14 Wis.2d 147, 109 N.W.2d 653, 656 (1961). See also 71 Am.Jur.2d State and Local Taxation § 366 (1973); Annot., 94 A.L.R.2d 636 § 3 (1964); and 84 C.J.S. Taxation § 231 (1954). It is also undisputed that Myint and Kopsombut, as trustees, agreed that they would hold the property only for the benefit of the temple. Therefore, the trial court’s conclusion that Kopsombut and Myint could profit from this transaction is not supported by the evidence.

The case was remanded to the trial court to determine, in accordance with the opinion of the court of appeals, whether this property was entitled to an exemption in 1982 [and a total exemption in 1983 (this depended upon the use of the property in 1983].