Is a Chariatable Institution Exempted Form Tax on a Property In Which It Has Substantial Interest but Not Owned by It ?
In Christian Action Ministry v. Department of Local Government Affairs, 74 Ill. 2d 51, 383 N.E.2d 958, 23 Ill. Dec. 87 (1978), an Illinois not-for-profit corporation (the Ministry) entered into a contract for the purchase of certain property. Christian Action Ministry, 74 Ill. 2d at 54.
The Ministry paid $ 30,000 down, made monthly payments of $ 2,500, was responsible for real estate taxes, and used the property exclusively for charitable purposes. Christian Action Ministry, 74 Ill. 2d at 54.
According to the contract, no title would pass to the Ministry until the deed was delivered or until the full purchase price was paid. Christian Action Ministry, 74 Ill. 2d at 54.
The Department found that the property was not exempt, because the Ministry was not the title owner. Christian Action Ministry, 74 Ill. 2d at 54.
The question before the supreme court was whether the Ministry owned the property, thereby entitling it to tax-exempt status. Christian Action Ministry, 74 Ill. 2d at 61.
The supreme court held that the down payment, the monthly payments, and the responsibility for real estate taxes demonstrated the Ministry's substantial interest in the property. Christian Action Ministry, 74 Ill. 2d at 62.
Rejecting the notion that only legal title would satisfy the requirement of ownership, the court allowed the exemption, determining that the Ministry was the equitable owner of the property. Christian Action Ministry, 74 Ill. 2d at 61-62.
In so holding, the supreme court stated:
"Had the Ministry arranged a mortgage loan for the property, it would have qualified for the tax-exempt status.
To penalize a charitable institution for failing to acquire customary forms of financing, and, hence, for making the alternative arrangement of a contract for sale of property in order to carry on its good works, runs counter to the stated objective and policy consideration of encouraging charitable activity." Christian Action Ministry, 74 Ill. 2d at 62.