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Mass. Court considers church tax exemption case


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Attleboro -- The tax-exempt status of church properties has been challenged by one Massachusetts municipality, and soon the matter will be settled statewide. In 2013, the city of Attleboro sent a $92,292.98 tax bill to Our Lady of LaSalette Shrine, which had never been taxed in its 60-year history. The Appellate Tax Board upheld the decision, and the shrine's appeal is currently being considered by the Supreme Judicial Court.

Massachusetts' highest court will decide whether or not state law allows for the taxation of church properties that are not exclusively used for worship. Religious groups across the state say a move to tax such properties would affect nearly every faith community in the state.

An "amicus curiae" or "friend of court" brief -- filed by the Massachusetts Council of Churches, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Council on American Islamic Relations Massachusetts and Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Holliston -- states that if the ruling were upheld it would have "sweeping, potentially disastrous effects for religious organizations across the Commonwealth."

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