The Electric Commentary

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Catholic Church faces a new challenge:

Taxes.

``What the law says is that a church or a house of religious worship has to be owned by the tax-exempt entity and occupied for religious services or instruction,'' said Marlene Locke, chief assessor for Danvers who recently sent the archdiocese a bill of $13,450 for the closed St. Alphonsus Church.

``My feeling was the church has been sitting vacant for over a year, they are actively marketing it. ... I felt that it no longer met the requirements for a religious tax exemption,'' she said.

Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said its lawyers are reviewing the issue. And Tim Connolly, a spokesman for the state Department of Revenue, said the decision on whether to tax closed churches will be left to individual communities.

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