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Plaintiff The Marist Brothers of New Hampshire (MBNH) appealed several superior court orders: (1) a decision upholding the denial by defendant Town of Effingham (Town), of MBNH’s request for a charitable tax exemption, for tax year 2015, for real property; and (2) an order granting the Town’s motion in limine to exclude evidence of the tax treatment of New Hampshire youth camps other than the camp run by MBNH. When Camp Marist was not in session, MBNH rented the Property subject to this appeal: no restrictions were placed on who is eligible to rent, or how renters use, the Property. Rental proceeds were allocated to either the “regular Camp fund, the running of the Camp, or . . . to some of [MBNH’s] scholarships.” MBNH argues that the trial court erred in determining that it met none of the "ElderTrust" factors. After careful consideration, the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded MBNH did satisfy all ElderTrust factors, reversing the trial court. View "The Marist Brothers of New Hampshire v. Town of Effingham" on Justia Law

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In 1999, Ronnie and Jeanette Dennis purchased property on Callawassie Island. At that time, the Dennises joined a private club known as the Callawassie Island Club, and paid $31,000 to become "equity members." The Club's bylaws stated "Any equity member may resign from the Club by giving written notice to the Secretary. Dues, fees, and charges shall accrue against a resigned equity membership until the resigned equity membership is reissued by the Club." In 2010, the Dennises decided they no longer wanted to be in the Members Club, so they submitted a "letter of resignation" and stopped making all payments. The Club filed a breach of contract action against the Dennises, alleging the unambiguous terms of the membership documents required the Dennises to continue to pay their membership dues, fees, and other charges until their membership was reissued. The Dennises denied any liability, alleging they were told by a Members Club manager that their maximum liability would be only four months of dues, because after four months of not paying, they would be expelled. The Dennises also alleged the membership arrangement violated the South Carolina Nonprofit Corporation Act. Finding no ambiguity in the Club bylaws, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and reinstated summary judgment for all unpaid dues, fees and other charges. View "Callawassie Island Club v. Dennis" on Justia Law

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The J.R. Simplot Foundation appealed a district court’s ruling that the charitable property tax exemption under Idaho Code section 63-602C did not apply to the property known as Jack’s Urban Meeting Place (JUMP) while JUMP was under construction. In 2015, the Foundation applied for a charitable property tax exemption for JUMP. The Ada County Board of Equalization (Ada County) denied the tax exemption because JUMP was under construction and therefore not used exclusively for the Foundation’s charitable purposes. The Idaho Board of Tax Appeals (IBTA) reversed, finding construction was not a “use” of the property and the only uses at JUMP were in furtherance of the Foundation’s charitable objectives. Accordingly, the IBTA held JUMP was entitled to the property tax exemption. Ada County appealed the decision of the IBTA to the district court. The district court, ruling on cross motions for summary judgment, reversed the decision of the IBTA finding construction was a “use” of the property and that construction is not a charitable use. The Foundation appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Ada Co Bd of Equalization v. J.R. Simplot" on Justia Law

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In this declaratory relief action, the trial court granted summary judgment to the plaintiff, The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry (the National Grange), declaring that property at issue in the underlying dispute belonged to the California State Grange when the National Grange revoked the California State Grange’s charter in 2013 belonged to a newly chartered California State Grange. At the annual convention of the National Grange in November 2010, an amendment to the National Grange’s by-laws was proposed to expand the National Master’s power to suspend or revoke the charter of a State Grange, allowing the National Master to take that action in various situations, including when “the State Grange is working in violation of the law and usages of the Order.” The Master of the National Grange, Edward Luttrell, ordered an investigation of Robert McFarland, then Master/President of the California State Grange, based on allegations that McFarland had engaged in various instances of misconduct. McFarland ordered the consolidation of two subordinate granges. At some point, McFarland was suspended and an Overseer was supposed to act in his place. McFarland refused to acknowledge the Overseer’s authority to act in his stead. Put to a vote of the State Grange, the Executive Committee refused to honor Luttrell’s suspension of McFarland, arguing the State Grange was a California corporation governed by California state law, Luttrell did not have the power to suspend either McFarland or the State Grange. The California State Grange did not appeal the suspension of its charter within the organization as allowed by the by-laws of the National Grange. This declaratory relief action followed. The Court of Appeal was persuaded that the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the National Grange in this declaratory relief case. View "Nat. Grange of the Order etc. v. California Guild" on Justia Law

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The City of Rutland appealed a superior court decision that two buildings owned by the Rutland County Parent Child Center (RCPCC) were exempt from property taxation. The City argued neither property met the requirements of the public use tax exemption in 32 V.S.A. 3802(4). RCPCC is one of fifteen parent-child centers in Vermont. Under the statutory definition, a parent-child center is a “community-based organization established for the purpose of providing prevention and early intervention services." The superior court determined on summary judgment that RCPCC’s properties did not qualify for the public school tax exemption but, after a bench trial, decided that RCPCC’s use of the properties in question met the three-prong public use exemption test from American Museum of Fly Fishing, Inc. v. Town of Manchester, 110, 557 A.2d 900 (1989), and that, accordingly, both properties were exempt from property tax assessment. The Vermont Supreme Court found that RCPCC's use of the buildings met all elements of the American Museum of Fly Fishing's test, and affirmed the superior court's judgment. View "Rutland County Parent Child Center, Inc. v. City of Rutland" on Justia Law

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Respondent El Castillo Retirement Residences was a self-sustaining retirement and continuing care community, funded entirely by admission and monthly fees paid by residents who have met El Castillo’s requirements for sufficient financial resources, including a minimum net worth, and have satisfied specific health criteria. It did not accept residents who are Medicare or Medicaid-dependent, or charity-dependent or any residents who cannot afford to buy their way into the community. It neither donated any significant services or property to charitable causes, nor used its property primarily and substantially for a charitable purpose. The New Mexico Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals that El Castillo did not use its property for charitable purposes and was therefore not exempt from the constitutional requirement 5 of equal taxation, the Court used the opportunity of this opinion to clarify that Section 7-36-7(B)(1)(d) must be read in harmony with controlling constitutional requirements. Accordingly, the Court held that El Castillo was not entitled to property-tax exemptions under either Section 7-36- 8 7(B)(1)(d) or Article VIII, Section 3 of the New Mexico Constitution because El Castillo did not use its property primarily for substantial public benefit furthering charitable purposes. View "El Castillo Ret. Residences v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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Respondent El Castillo Retirement Residences was a self-sustaining retirement and continuing care community, funded entirely by admission and monthly fees paid by residents who have met El Castillo’s requirements for sufficient financial resources, including a minimum net worth, and have satisfied specific health criteria. It did not accept residents who are Medicare or Medicaid-dependent, or charity-dependent or any residents who cannot afford to buy their way into the community. It neither donated any significant services or property to charitable causes, nor used its property primarily and substantially for a charitable purpose. The New Mexico Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals that El Castillo did not use its property for charitable purposes and was therefore not exempt from the constitutional requirement 5 of equal taxation, the Court used the opportunity of this opinion to clarify that Section 7-36-7(B)(1)(d) must be read in harmony with controlling constitutional requirements. Accordingly, the Court held that El Castillo was not entitled to property-tax exemptions under either Section 7-36- 8 7(B)(1)(d) or Article VIII, Section 3 of the New Mexico Constitution because El Castillo did not use its property primarily for substantial public benefit furthering charitable purposes. View "El Castillo Ret. Residences v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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Baruch SLS, Inc., a Michigan nonprofit corporation, sought exemptions from real and personal property taxes as a charitable institution under MCL 211.7o and MCL 211.9 for tax years 2010–2012. Petitioner based its request on the fact that it offered an income-based subsidy to qualifying residents of Stone Crest Assisted Living, one of its adult foster care facilities, provided those residents had made at least 24 monthly payments to petitioner. The Tax Tribunal ruled that Stone Crest was not eligible for the exemptions because petitioner did not qualify as a charitable institution under three of the six factors set forth in Wexford Med Group v City of Cadillac, 474 Mich 192 (2006). The Court of Appeals reversed with respect to two of the Wexford factors, but affirmed the denial of the exemptions on the ground that petitioner had failed to satisfy the third Wexford factor because, by limiting the availability of its income-based subsidy, petitioner offered its services on a discriminatory basis. The Michigan Supreme Court found the third factor in the Wexford test excluded only restrictions or conditions on charity that bore no reasonable relationship to a permissible charitable goal. Because the lower courts did not consider Baruch’s policies under the proper understanding of this factor, the Court vacated the Court of Appeals’ and Tax Tribunal’s opinions in part and remanded this case to the Tax Tribunal for further proceedings. View "Baruch SLS, Inc. v. Twp of Tittabawassee" on Justia Law

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Consolidated appeals arose out of a complaint filed by four Georgia taxpayers in which they challenged the constitutionality of Georgia’s Qualified Education Tax Credit, Ga. L. 2008, p. 1108, as amended (“HB 1133” or the “Bill”). HB 1133 set up a tax credit program that allows individuals and businesses to receive a Georgia income tax credit for donations made to approved not-for-profit student scholarship organizations (“SSOs”). The Bill created a new tax credit statute for that purpose. Generally speaking, the SSO is required to distribute the donated funds as scholarships or tuition grants for the benefit of students who meet certain eligibility requirements, and the parent or guardian of each recipient must endorse the award to the accredited private school of the parents’ choice for deposit into the school’s account. Plaintiffs alleged: (1) the Program was educational assistance program, and the scheme of the Program violated the Constitution; (2) the Program provided unconstitutional gratuities to students who receive scholarship funds under the Program by allowing tax revenue to be directed to private school students without recompense, and also that the tax credits authorized by HB 1133 resulted in unauthorized state expenditures for gratuities; (3) the Program took money from the state treasury in the form of dollar-for-dollar tax credits that would otherwise be paid to the State in taxes, and since a significant portion of the scholarships awarded by the SSOs goes to religious-based schools, the Program takes funds from the State treasury to aid religious schools in violation of the Establishment Clause; and (4) the Department of Revenue violated the statute that authorized tax credits for contributions to SSOs by granting tax credits to taxpayers who have designated that their contribution is to be awarded to the benefit of a particular individual, and by failing to revoke the status of SSOs that have represented to taxpayers that their contribution will fund a scholarship that may be directed to a particular individual. Plaintiffs sought mandamus relief to compel the Commissioner of Revenue to revoke the status of SSOs, and injunctive relief against the defendants to require them to comply with the constitutional provisions and statutory laws set forth in the complaint. In addition to mandamus relief and injunctive relief, plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the Program was unconstitutional. The Georgia Supreme Court found no error in the trial court’s finding plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue their constitutional claims, or their prayer for declaratory relief with respect to those claims, either by virtue of their status as taxpayers or by operation of OCGA 9-6-24. Consequently plaintiffs failed to allege any clear legal right to mandamus relief. View "Gaddy v. Georgia Dept. of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Stuttering Foundation, Inc. (“Foundation”) leased office space in a commercial development in Glynn County owned by Lucas Properties Holdings III, LLC (“Lucas”). In 2015, Lucas filed an application for rezoning of the property to construct an addition to the rear of one of the existing buildings in the development, the building in which the Foundation leased its office. It also sought approval of a site plan for the proposed construction. Both were approved in March 2016. For various reasons, the Foundation opposed the new development and filed a petition for judicial review of the rezoning application and Site Plan, or in the alternative, for mandamus reversing the County’s approval. Both the County and Lucas filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on its merits. The trial court entered an order granting the County’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the Foundation lacked standing to raise its objections to the rezoning. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that the Foundation demonstrated no right to contest the rezoning decision. Lucas’s motion to dismiss was a nullity and therefore vacated. View "The Stuttering Foundation of America, Inc. v. Glynn County" on Justia Law