The church exemption is designed for property that is owned, leased, or rented by a religious organization and used exclusively for religious worship services. For purposes of this exemptions, the term “used exclusively” means that the property is used exclusively for the stated exempt purpose and excluding any other use. However, uses that are incidental to or reasonably necessary to accomplish the organization’s exempt purpose are also allowed. Incidental uses must be directly connected with the exempt purpose and advance that purpose. Use of the word “church” is a generic term because the exemption for property used exclusively for religious worship is called the “church exemption.” The word is not meant to refer to any particular religious faith.
In general the church exemption is available for buildings, the land they sit on, and personal property used exclusively for religious worship as of 12:01 a m on the January 1 property tax lien date. It is also available for property the church uses for parking. If there is an elementary school and/or secondary school or children’s day care center being operated at the location, the property is not eligible for the Church Exemption but may qualify for the Religious Exemption or Welfare Exemption. Contact us if you have any questions about which exemption your organization may qualify for.
In some cases, the requirements for obtaining a church, religious, or welfare exemption are complex for first-time filers. The Assessor and the Board of Equalization will provide guidance to help you obtain exemptions. The Assessor can grant a full exemption only if you file the proper claim form on time and show that the use of the property (or intended use if the property is under construction or newly acquired) qualifies it for the exemption.