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Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 70

Opinions of Counsel index

Nonprofit organizations exemption (religious) (evangelical organization) - Real Property Tax Law, § 421(1)(a):

A bona fide evangelical organization which has as its purpose the conversion of people to a form of Christianity is entitled to an exemption if it satisfies the “exclusively organized” requirement of section 421.

Our opinion has been requested as to the taxable status of a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization.

The purpose clause of the organization’s proposed charter is as follows:

“2. The purposes for which it is to be formed are:

“To function as a non-denominational Evangelical Christian organization with a program especially adapted to young people; to promote Christian fellowship between Christian young people, regardless of denomination; to guide in and encourage the reading and study of the Bible as the word of God; to seek to win souls to the recognition of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior; and in furtherance of such purposes to:

“A) Establish, operate and maintain a Youth Center;
“B) Make use of the communications media and all known means of communication of the message of Jesus Christ and the Bible as the word of God;
“C) Distribute Christian tracts and literature;
“D) Conduct Bible conferences and camps;
“E) Conduct youth rallies and meetings;
“F) Advise, encourage, aid and direct young people in the formation and operation of Christian youth group activities.
“G) Take and hold by bequest, gifts, purchase or lease, either absolutely or in trust, for any of its purposes, any property, real or personal, without limitation as to amount or value except such limitations, if any, as may be imposed by law; to convey such property and to invest and reinvest any principal and to deal with and expend the income of the corporation in such manner as in the judgment of the members and directors will best promote its objects;
“H) Do such other things necessary and/or incidental to the carrying out of the above avowed purposes, or any one of them.”

An exemption from taxation is available to nonprofit organizations which are exclusively organized for certain enumerated purposes and which exclusively use their real property for one or more of those purposes. These purposes, as set forth in section 421, include:

“* * *religious, charitable, hospital, educational, moral or mental improvement of men, women, or children or cemetery purposes or for two or more such purposes* * *.”

The purposes set forth in the organization’s charter are consistent with section 421 in that all of the charter purposes are aimed at attaining the religious education and guidance of young people. A bona fide evangelical organization is exempt pursuant to section 421, and the charter of the organization, on its face, satisfies the “exclusively organized” requirement of section 421.

As to the “exclusive use” requirement of the statute, an investigation of the activities which the organization carries out on the premises in question is, of course, the final factor in the determination of whether the requirement is satisfied. We presume that an evangelical organization would necessarily pursue the activities authorized in the organization’s purpose clause, and if it is found that such is the case and that these activities are meant to convert people to a form of Christianity, then the exclusive use requirement would be satisfied.

December 20, 1971