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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ind. Decisions - New Tax Court opinion, filed March 18th

A new Tax Court opinion, it was filed March 18th. This is the second opinion from the Tax Court this year.

In Fraternal Order of Eagles #3988, Inc. v. Morgan County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals and Morgan County Assessor, a 10-page opinion, Judge Wentworth writes:

This case concerns whether the Indiana Board of Tax Review erred in determining that the Fraternal Order of Eagles #3988, Inc. was not entitled to either a fraternal beneficiary association exemption or a charitable purposes exemption for the 2006 tax year. The Court affirms. * * *

Eagles has not shown that the Indiana Board’s determination that it did not present a prima facie case that it is a fraternal beneficiary association is unsupported by substantial evidence. * * *

A review of Eagles’ presentation indicates that it urged the Indiana Board to find that using property for fraternal purposes is synonymous with using property for charitable purposes because fraternal organizations collectively seek to promote the general welfare of their members and society in general. The General Assembly, however, has not expressly declared in any statute that property owned, occupied, and exclusively used by a fraternal organization is ipso facto used for a charitable purpose and thus exempt. Therefore, the fact that Eagles used its property for fraternal purposes does not necessarily establish that its property was used for charitable purposes. [citations omitted]

In this case, the evidence contained in the certified administrative record shows that Eagles used its property both for a variety of social and recreational purposes (e.g., gambling, drinking, dancing, karaoke, pool/dart tournaments, and general relaxation) and for charitable purposes (e.g., fundraisers and donations). Nonetheless, Eagles’ Usage Report did not provide the Indiana Board with a comparison of the relative amounts of time that the lodge was used for exempt and non-exempt purposes. Eagles’ failure to provide this comparison was fatal to its claim for either a full or a partial exemption. In addition, Eagles’ evidence failed to show that the activities that it claimed were charitable (i.e., its fraternal activities) truly were. Consequently, Eagles has not demonstrated that the Indiana Board’s determination that it did not make a prima facie case that its property was exclusively or predominately used for charitable purposes is either contrary to law or unsupported by substantial evidence.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 20, 2014 11:48 AM
Posted to Ind. Tax Ct. Decisions