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We are non profit organization. We bought a land to build a church on in 3-4 years. What do we do to not pay property tax?

San Francisco, CA |

The city told us that as far as there is no actual building on the property we have to pay property tax.
We already started building the new church but we don't have money to finish it.
we finished the parking lot already and all the under ground piping. the only thing we need to do is put up the actual building. the city is telling us that we have to pay property tax on it because there is no building on the property. But the land belongs to a non profit organization.
(the church). What can we do?

Attorney Answers 5

  1. As long as you have proof that you are a church (such as a charter or the articles of incorporation), the fact that you have not built the church itself will not prohibit you from being exempt from taxation. I would provide that document to the County assessor. That should be enough to keep you from being taxed on the property.

    All information provided is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. For more information, please visit my website at

  2. Hire a nonprofit tax specialist in your area.

    Why not contact the head of the NONPROFIT committee of the Tax Section of the State Bar. A link below will take you to the page where the nonprofit standing committee is located.

    Contact the chair and ask for help from someone near to you. (simply plowing through the list of tax specialists would take too much time; the chair of this committee knows someone in your area.)

    Curt Harrington Patent & Tax Law Attorney Certified Tax Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization PATENTAX.COM This communication is general information and not legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This communication should not be relied upon as any type of legal advice. Please note that no attorney-client relationship exists between the sender and the recipient of this message in the absence of either (1) a signed fee contract and (2) remission of an agreed-upon retainer. Absent such an agreement and retainer, I am not engaged by you as an attorney, nor is any other member of my law firm.

  3. If it is under construction and going to be used for a church you should be eligible for an exemption. However, if you have told them it is no longer under construction they may have removed you from being eligible for the exemption. You should consult someone for further assistance and guidance.

  4. Apply for an exemption. The state has a two-tiered system, in which nonprofits first apply to the Board of Equalization, which collects state-mandated fees, sales and sin taxes and certifies exemption eligibility. But assessors in each of the state’s 58 counties make the final decision on exemptions, after determining whether that property is used in a way that is of “primary benefit” to California.

    Disclaimer of California Attorney. Laws differ from state to state. Although the above response is believed to be accurate, it should not be relied upon as any type of legal advice because the information provided is incomplete. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. No attorney client relation is formed with me without a written contract. Good Luck starts with a strategy and a plan. Robert J. Suhajda, MS,CPA Attorney-At-Law 17721 Norwalk Blvd. #43 Artesia, CA 90701 562-924-8922 Tax Relief Lawyer. Former financial auditor and controller. Admitted to US Tax Court, Income Tax, IRS representation, Fiduciary income tax returns, Estate and Gift tax returns, Homeowner Association Strategist.

  5. The Congregation may be able to obtain a Religious Exemption by using the site for religious services. That could be problematic because of Conditional Use Permits and other zoning and regulatory issues. The County Assessor will have a Religious and Welfare Exemption department. Go visit with them and craft an application that will be approved by the Board of Equalization.

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