Democrats hammer churches with vote against exempting property taxes

Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen)

DENVER—Yesterday, Democrats on the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee killed, on a party-line vote, legislation that would have greatly reduced the costs for churches that operate in leased facilities. Senate Bill 18-070, sponsored by Senator Tim Neville (R-Littleton) and Representatives Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) and Steve Humphrey (R-Alt), would have eliminated the ownership requirement for a church to qualify for the property tax exemption, relieving property owners from needing to pass on the property taxes to the religious organizations.

“I am shocked all the Democrats on this committee were unwilling to support a bill that would have put start-up churches in retail shopping centers on par with mega-churches which can afford to buy land and build their buildings ,” said Leonard. “These smaller churches have to spend a big portion of their congregation’s donations paying property tax. Politics should not have been an issue in recognizing this equity disparity and the value of church charity in our communities.”

Representative Humphrey added:

“A church that owns a building qualifies for this exemption, but a church that leases get penalized – that isn’t equal treatment or protection under the law. I am aware of churches that pay more than $50,000 a year to a property owner for property taxes, that’s a lot of money that could otherwise be helping struggling families or people in need.”