Tax Court reverses educational property tax exemption

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The Indiana Tax Court has reversed an educational property tax exemption for a Carmel day care after finding that the land’s owner failed to properly compare the total time the property was used for educational purposes against the total time the day care utilized the land.

In Hamilton County Assessor v. Charles E. Duke, 49T10-1309-TA-69, Charles Duke incorporated the Little Lamb Daycare, Inc. as a for-profit corporation and opened the day care on his property in Carmel. The daycare used a Bible-based curriculum that instructed children up to 6 years old in various educational subjects, though its lessons were not governed by a specific church or denomination. 

In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 tax years, Duke filed three property tax exemption applications, claiming that because Little Lamb used 84 percent of the property for educational and religious purposes, that portion of his property was entitled to exemption under Indiana Code 6-1.1-10-16 and 6-1.1-10-36.3 After the Hamilton County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals denied his request, Duke appealed to the Indiana Board of Tax Review, which denied his partial religious exemption but granted his partial education exemption.

The Hamilton County assessor appealed, arguing that the board erred in granting 84 percent of the property an educational exemption because Duke failed to identify the time spent on specific exempt activities and compare that to the total amount of time the property was used. Duke, however, contended that the board erred in denying his partial religious exemption.

The evidence in the case shows that Little Lamb used the property for both educational and non-educational purposes, Indiana Tax Court Judge Martha Blood Wentworth wrote in a Friday opinion. However, Duke failed to identify how the day care’s activities furthered educational purposes, and also did not compare the amounts of time the property was used for education against the total time it was in use, she wrote. Without that comparison, Wentworth said the board’s determination in Duke’s favor on the issue of the partial education exemption was contrary to law.

Similarly, Wentworth wrote that Duke failed to explain how the day care’s activities furthered religious purposes and also did not provide a comparison of the time spent of religious activities versus the total time the daycare was in use on Duke’s property. Thus, the board was correct to deny Duke’s partial religious exemption, the judge said.


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  1. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

  2. The Indiana DOE released the 2015-2016 school grades in Dec 2016 and my local elementary school is a "C" grade school. Look at the MCCSC boundary maps and how all of the most affluent neighborhoods have the best performance. It is no surprise that obtaining residency in the "A" school boundaries cost 1.5 to 3 times as much. As a parent I should have more options than my "C" school without needing to pay the premium to live in the affluent parts of town. If the charter were authorized by a non-religious school the plaintiffs would still be against it because it would still be taking per-pupil money from them. They are hiding behind the guise of religion as a basis for their argument when this is clearly all about money and nothing else.

  3. This is a horrible headline. The article is about challenging the ability of Grace College to serve as an authorizer. 7 Oaks is not a religiously affiliated school

  4. Congratulations to Judge Carmichael for making it to the final three! She is an outstanding Judge and the people of Indiana will benefit tremendously if/when she is chosen.

  5. The headline change to from "religious" to "religious-affiliated" is still inaccurate and terribly misleading.