Government ‘takes’ church. Post 90


ONE NEWS 5/9/2008

A crumby standoff in Chicago

The city of Chicago has placed a tax lien on an area church for allegedly failing to pay sales tax on charitable bake sales.

Beth-El All Nations Church in Chicago is currently involved in a property dispute with the city. In 1976 the church purchased and rehabilitated a piece of property in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. But since then, city officials have sought and failed to purchase the property for redevelopment purposes.

Now the city of Chicago has placed a tax lien on the church for allegedly engaging in unspecified resale activity. The church denies such claims, and says the only sales tax not paid were on exempt charitable bake sales. The church is now suing the city of Chicago.

Senior counsel Joseph Infranco is with the Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing Beth-El All Nations Church.

“Churches are tax-exempt because society recognizes that they do good for society,”Infranco explains. “And to sort of miss that in the equation and try to press something like a tax sale on a baking event is … the worst type of government action one could imagine. [T]he city should be ashamed of themselves for this one.”

The attorney questions the motive behind the city’s actions. “[I]t’s government hostility towards religion; it’s an inappropriate penalizing of churches – and frankly, it’s probably a cheap grab at property that the city thinks is valuable,” he suggests.

In recent developments, a state court entered a tax deed for the city, which gives it title to the church’s real estate. The church responded with a lawsuit seeking to recover title. Attempts by the city to block the church’s suit have been denied.

This is the entire article.

Read a related article showing that Chicago has taken title to the church and a judge has allowed the church to sue the city to get the title back.  –




Are you surprised?

I don’t know why? This is typical government behavior. Ready, Shoot, Aim; hit yourself in the foot.

The church’s attorney said it best, “[I]t’s government hostility towards religion; it’s an inappropriate penalizing of churches – and frankly, it’s probably a cheap grab at property that the city thinks is valuable,”

A very bad precedent

The US Constitution, in Article 1 of the Bill of Rights says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. ”

While the Supreme Court has ruled that the US Government can exercise some control over certain “practices,” such as human sacrifices or polygamy, Reynolds v. United States in 1879, newer rulings have stipulated that the courts shall significantly narrow the range of church related matters it will adjudicate.

Bake sales are now verboten

The church is being attacked to recover sales tax on cake sales. Let’s say the church was wildly successful and they sold $55,555 in their bake sales. Chicago has a sales tax of 9%. Therefore, let’s pretend that the church would then owe the City of Chicago $5000 in sales tax. This is an absurdly high number – so let’s use it.

The church has a valuable parcel of land, surely worth much more than the $5000. In addition, the sales activity is legitimate church activity covered by constitutional fiat. There was no due process spoken about in the article even though a “taking” requires it. There was no mention in the article of any payment to the church for any overage in value that the church was due. The rule is: any value that the property has over the $5000 is owed the church because due process requires government pay a fair market price for property. Anything other than FMV is legalized theft. This is also constitutional fiat.

Further, have all other churches in Chicago been hit with sales tax audits, fines, and liens – for bake sales? Of course not! Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, would first excommunicate Mayor Daly and then jump down his throat. There is enormous religious discrimination going on here. Beth El Church’s civil rights have been notoriously violated, also in contradiction to black letter constitutional fiat.

The church is suing, as it should. If there are damages and if they are trebled, because of the heinous nature of the acts, the citizens of Chicago could really be on the hook for this lawsuit. The best thing that could happen is for the mayor to be impeached and the tax collector fired and then brought up on charges of fraud. The only thing better would be for the tax collector to turn on the mayor and the mayor to be found guilty of complicity and conspiracy to defraud.

Because the city wants the land for development purposes, they employed the usual trick of sending the tax lien notices to a wrong address. In formal papers, the city claims to have served the church correctly.

Lemonade stands are also in trouble

Gone are the days of innocence, when a child could try to earn a few cents by selling lemonade by the roadside. I recall a story in the local newspaper where a young man, exercising his entrepreneurial juices by setting up a lemonade stand, was accosted by a tax collector and told he had to pay sales tax on any sales. The lad had made $10 and the picture in the newspaper was showing the kindly tax collector helping the enterprising young gent fill out the tax paperwork. How kind. I guess that old saw is true, “This is the IRS, and we’re here to help you.”

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