Fw: *Sightings* 11/29/01 -- No, There Is NOT a Holy Roller Coaster

Vance R. Koven vrkoven at WORLD.STD.COM
Fri Nov 30 08:53:50 PST 2001

Thanks to David Guinn for reproducing this article.

 From an exempt organizations taxation standpoint (and I know Jim
Maule will correct my errors here), it is not at all uncommon for
exempt organizations to charge for the performance of their exempt
function. Symphony orchestras and theater groups charge for tickets,
nonprofit publishers charge for books, etc. At the federal level,
these charges are not even considered "unrelated taxable business
income." Moreover, a religious organization does not have to be a
formal church in order to qualify under IRC sec. 501(c)(3); it merely
needs to be organized and operated for religious purposes. Operating
a religious-themed park seems to fall pretty squarely within the
framework of religious purpose.

Normally (speaking now only from the perspective of Massachusetts,
which however I understand to be a typical jurisdiction in this
respect) a non-profit organization that has federal tax exemption
under IRC 501(c)(3) is automatically entitled to a sales and property
tax exemption at the state level for property used in the furtherance
of its exempt purpose. Florida may be different. If it is not, then
it seems that the assessor should have the burden to show why HLE
should be treated differently from the Orlando Symphony Orchestra's
risers and music library.

If I remember correctly, it was also the Florida department of
taxation that was in the news recently for wanting to tax
geo-synchronous satellites hovering in space over the state. If so,
this seems to be another instance of a publicity-seeking state
official making over-the-top demands to garner his fifteen minutes of

I'm also puzzled and troubled by the author's rather cheap throw-away
line criticizing ZHI for relying on the courts to vindicate its
position. After all, assuming that ZHI's view is that government
should keep its hands off this ministry, it is government that is
laying its very heavy hands on it, and offsetting arbitrary
government conduct is part of what courts are for, no?

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