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City taxes shuttered churches.

City Assessor John Gamage denied tax-exempt status to three Catholic churches and two parochial schools--all recently closed by the Syracuse, diocese--and dunned local Catholics for $89,175 in property taxes.

A nonprofit or religious organization isn't automatically exempt from taxes on any property it owns, Gamage said. To be exempt, the property has to be used for a religious, educational or other tax-exempt purpose. "It's not just about ownership," Gamage said.

This is the first time Gamage has denied exemptions to closed Catholic churches, but he said the city is not trying to start a holy war. Gamage, a Catholic himself, said the recent closures forced his office to include them in a regular review of properties.

Making sure property owners pay their share is especially important in Syracuse, where less than half of the city's property value is taxed, which leaves the remaining owners responsible for all of the city's tax revenue.

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Title Annotation:U.S. BRIEFS; Syracuse, New York tax policy on nonprofit or religious organizations
Author:N.Y., Syracuse
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Mar 5, 2010
Words:153
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