Rule Change Could Make it Easier for Counties to Tax Property at Churches

A proposed rule-change at the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Division could make it easier for county assessors to collect taxes on property that churches, charities, and other nonprofits own.

Currently, the Arkansas Constitution makes it clear that churches and charities are tax-exempt, and churches and charities generally don’t pay taxes on property they own unless they make some sort of profit from it.

The proposed rules would require churches and charities to file forms and paperwork with the county assessor that prove their property is exempt from taxation “beyond a reasonable doubt under Arkansas law.”

That’s a very high standard — and it gives county assessors tremendous leeway.

The forms also require churches and charities to give the county information that many people would consider private — like information about their staff’s salaries, bonuses, and other compensation. It isn’t clear why the county would need to know that kind of information.

If a county assessor decided to reject the nonprofit’s application for a tax exemption, the county could force the organization to pay taxes on anything it owns — land, buildings, vehicles, electronic equipment, machinery, and other property — as if it were a business.

The new rule could hurt many different nonprofits in Arkansas, including:

  • Churches
  • Charities like the Salvation Army or Union Rescue Mission
  • Christian summer camps
  • Private schools and private colleges and universities
  • Food ministries
  • Nonprofit hospitals and medical clinics
  • Homeless shelters

Charities and churches contribute millions of dollars to the economy each year by serving their communities. That’s part of the reason the Arkansas Legislature voted to designate religious organizations and charities as essential earlier this year. Making it easier for counties to tax property at churches and charities hurts everybody.

Please contact the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration today, and ask them to opposed Rule 6.01 – 6.04, the Property Tax Exemption rule that affects nonprofits, charities, and churches.

Email your comments against the rules to kayleigh.gilliam@dfa.arkansas.gov. All comments are due by Monday, May 31.

You can read the proposed rules here. You can read some of the paperwork churches and charities would have to file here.

Ask Your Senator to Support Religious Freedom

Ask your state senator to support an effort to add the Religious Freedom Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution.

S.J.R. 14 by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) and Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould) amends the Arkansas Constitution.

It prevents the government from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion.

The measure is similar to Arkansas’ state Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

You can call (501) 682-2902 to leave a message asking your state senator to support S.J.R. 14, the Religious Freedom Amendment.

You can find your senator’s name and email address below. Ask your senator to support S.J.R. 14.

Contact Your Senator

Sen. Bart Hester (Republican – Dist. 1): bart.hester@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Jim Hendren (Independent- Dist. 2): jim.hendren@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (Republican – Dist. 3): cecile.bledsoe@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Greg Leding (Democrat – Dist. 4): greg.leding@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Bob Ballinger (Republican – Dist. 5): bob.ballinger@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Gary Stubblefield (Republican – Dist. 6): gary.stubblefield@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Lance Eads (Republican – Dist. 7): lance.eads@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Mathew Pitsch (Republican – Dist. 8): mathew.pitsch@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Terry Rice (Republican – Dist. 9): terry.rice@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Larry Teague (Democrat – Dist. 10): larry.teague@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Jimmy Hickey (Republican – Dist. 11): jimmy.hickey@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Charles Beckham (Republican – Dist. 12): charles.beckham@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Alan Clark (Republican – Dist. 13): alan.clark@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Bill Sample (Republican – Dist. 14): bill.sample@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Mark Johnson (Republican – Dist. 15): mark.johnson@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Breanne Davis (Republican – Dist. 16): breanne.davis@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Scott Flippo (Republican – Dist. 17): scott.flippo@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Missy Irvin (Republican – Dist. 18): missy.irvin@senate.ar.gov

Sen. James Sturch (Republican – Dist. 19): james.sturch@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Blake Johnson (Republican – Dist. 20): blake.johnson@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Dan Sullivan (Republican – Dist. 21): dan.sullivan@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Dave Wallace (Republican – Dist. 22): dave.wallace@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Ronald Caldwell (Republican – Dist. 23): ronald.caldwell@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Keith Ingram (Democrat – Dist. 24): keith.ingram@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Stephanie Flowers (Democrat – Dist. 25): stephanie.flowers@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Ben Gilmore (Republican – Dist. 26): ben.gilmore@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Trent Garner (Republican – Dist. 27): trent.garner@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Jonathan Dismang (Republican – Dist. 28): jonathan.dismang@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Ricky Hill (Republican – Dist. 29): Ricky.Hill@Senate.ar.gov

Sen. Linda Chesterfield (Democrat – Dist. 30): linda.chesterfield@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Joyce Elliott (Democrat – Dist. 31): joyce.elliott@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Clarke Tucker (Democrat – Dist. 32): clarke.tucker@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Kim Hammer (Republican – Dist. 33): kim.hammer@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Jane English (Republican – Dist. 34): jane.english@senate.ar.gov

Sen. Jason Rapert (Republican – Dist. 35): jason.rapert@senate.ar.gov