Render Unto Ceasar

by Nick Molnar on October 11, 2006

The tax exempt status of religious and not-for-profit organizations is a story that is picking up steam nationally as more of these groups expand and move into spheres they traditionally avoid, including political advocacy.

South Bend has a high percentage of tax exempt properties, as featured in a recent South Bend Tribune article which reports that 54% of Portage Township properties have tax exempt status.

A story in the New York Times compares two communities in South Bend to make its point about tax exempt properties. They are Hermitage Estates and Holy Cross Village. Unfortunately the article calls both retirement communities, which is incorrect. I live in Hermitage Estates, and can assure you it is not only for retirees. Daily, I see many school-age children and working-age people as well as mature residents. The thesis of the article is worth public debate, but it contained a few errors that weaken the point it tries to make.
Fair taxation is an issue of ongoing relevance, from before the American Revolution to today. However balancing it with other traditions including the separation of Church and State is complex, as revealed by the inclusion of errors in even highly regarded news company’s stories. On an individual level, the best policy is to become informed, vote according to your principles and pay attention to the current tax status of any property in which you take a financial interest.

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