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Judge upholds 2009 tax year exemption

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The Indiana Tax Court rejected the Hamilton County assessor’s claim that a for-profit limited liability company created to purchase office space for its nonprofit tissue donation company should not qualify for a charitable purposes exemption for the 2009 tax year.

New Life Generation Inc. was created in May 2008 as a nonprofit to procure tissue donations, perform donation recoveries, and provide related donor services. After New Life had trouble renting suitable space, its owners formed SPD, a LLC, to purchase an office building. It leased a portion of the building to New Life for a 10-year period. New Life paid rent in the amount of SPD’s mortgage, as well as all real and personal property taxes and other expenses.

SPD requested a charitable purposes exemption for the 2009 tax year, which the Hamilton County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals denied. SPD appealed, and the Indiana Board of Tax Review granted the exemption.

In Hamilton County Assessor v. SPD Realty, LLC, 49T10-1104-TA-28, the assessor contended that the board’s final determination is contrary to law and unsupported by substantial evidence because New Life did not occupy and use the property for a charitable purpose;  SPD did not own the property for a charitable purpose; and the property was not  predominately used for charitable purposes. In its final determination, the IBTR explained that it found that New Life occupied and used the property for a charitable purpose because the parties did not appear to dispute the issue.

There is substantial evidence to support the board’s finding that New Life occupied and used the property for a charitable purpose, Judge Martha Wentworth wrote, because the assessor did not challenge SPD’s claims regarding New Life’s charitable purpose or present evidence to the contrary. Instead, the assessor focused primarily on whether SPD had a charitable purpose.

The IBTR also determined that the totality of the evidence demonstrated that SPD owned the property for a charitable purpose. The totality of the evidence indicates that the arrangement between SPD and New Life was not a typical landlord-tenant relationship and that SPD did not have a profit motive, Wentworth wrote. The evidence of the close relationship between these two entities does support the finding that each has a similar charitable purpose. Wentworth declined to reweigh the evidence in the assessor’s favor.

Wentworth also rejected the assessor’s claim that the board incorrectly determined that SPD’s property was predominately used for charitable purposes. The language of I.C. 6-1.1-10-36.3(a) “clearly requires that a property be used or occupied for charitable purposes for more than 50% of the time that it is actually used or occupied during the tax year at issue. Here, the evidence shows that in the four months the property was used and occupied, it was used 100% of the time for the charitable purpose of operating a tissue bank,” she wrote.
 

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