Religious Property Tax Exemption

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The California State Constitution allows exemptions to religious organizations that own property and exclusively use it to conduct worship services and other related religious activities (i.e. church operated schools of less than collegiate level, Bible studies, weddings, etc.).

If another church uses the owner-operated church for worship services, the other church must apply for the religious exemption. If any other outside use is allowed on the property, the owner of the church and the operator will both need to file a welfare exemption claim.

The religious exemption is generally more desirable for church-owned property because of its one-time filing provision. Once the exemption has been granted, it is continuous until the owner of the property notifies the Assessor that the use of the property has changed or a change of ownership has occurred. A "change in eligibility or termination card” is sent annually in January to remind claimants of this obligation. This is a simplified process that eliminates the need for annual filing and the possibility of being assessed a late filing penalty. Penalties of up to $250 apply if a church fails to notify the Assessor that an exemption should be terminated.

See our forms page.