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Apartment creates issue of first impression

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In an issue of first impression, the Indiana Tax Court decided housing owned by a non-profit that receives governmental subsidies to rent to low- and moderate-income people at below-market rates is not property used for a charitable purpose.

At issue in Jamestown Homes of Mishawaka, Inc. v. St. Joseph County Assessor,  No. 49T10-0802-TA-17, is whether the Indiana Board of Tax Review erred in denying Jamestown Homes a property tax exemption for the 2005 tax year by ruling Jamestown's apartment complex didn't qualify for the charitable purposes exemption provided in Indiana Code Section 6-1.1-10-16.

Jamestown is a non-profit corporation formed in 1965 to provide housing based on Section 221(d)(3) of Title II of the National Housing Act. Under the program, the federal government insured and subsidized low-interest loans to private developers that agreed to rent to people at certain income levels and charge rents that would cover operating costs and debt service only. Jamestown was also allowed to evict tenants who don't pay rent and charge late fees and security deposits.

The apartments were built in 1970, but Jamestown didn't apply for the property tax exemption until the 2005 tax year. The St. Joseph County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals denied the application; the Indiana Board of Tax Review affirmed. The board found Jamestown's apartments weren't rented to low- and moderate-income people for any kind of charitable purpose but because it was a condition of its agreement with the federal government. It also ruled the government was shouldering the financial burden of providing the low-cost housing.

On appeal, Jamestown argued it met the burden of proving its property is entitled to the tax exemption, saying it performed a service that the federal, state, and local government would have an obligation to do if it weren't for Jamestown. It also provides affordable housing with no expectation of financial gain.

Because this is an issue of first impression in Indiana, Judge Thomas Fisher looked to other courts for their rulings and adopted the reasoning provided in the New Mexico case Mountain View Homes, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 427 P.2d 13 (N.M. 1967). That case was based on a similar situation and exemption provision as in the instant case.

Using the ruling from Mountain View, the Indiana Tax Court affirmed the Indiana Tax Review Board's final decision. There's no evidence any welfare clients live in Jamestown's apartments nor is there evidence tenants can continue to live there when they can't pay their rent, wrote Judge Fisher. There's no evidence Jamestown provided good fellowship intended to improve the spirits of its tenants nor is there evidence showing Jamestown has lessened the burden of government in meeting the need for affordable housing. That need is ultimately being met by the government through its mortgage insurance and interest subsidy, wrote the judge.

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  1. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

  2. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

  3. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  4. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  5. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

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