Grace Church Eden Prairie MN Rides The Gravey Train
As a nonprofit leader in Minnesota said: "Nonprofits have tax exemption for a reason -- they provide service to the community that lessens the burden on government. We are partners with government and the community".
Tax payers agree the purpose of tax exemption to nonprofits is to lessen the burden on government. Nevertheless, charities and other nonprofits have become a hotbed of tax evasion and abuse, according to the head of the Internal Revenue Service.
An example of abuse is Mega churches using tax payer subsidized land grabs to ruin our communities resulting in defunding our schools.
Grace Church of Eden Prairie MN is one such clear example. This 80 Million dollar state of the art facility sits on 62 acres and rivals any large shopping mall. Grace Church does not pay any form of taxes leaving the local community to pay supporting infrastructure such as roads, utilities, sewer, fire, police and rescue.
As a result of Grace Church tax exempt status, consider the amount of lost property taxes which otherwise would benefit schools, libraries, community and recreation centers, sanitation and local infrastructure.
The average Eden Prairie MN housing density is 5 homes per acre. Grace Church sits on 62 acres which amounts to a potential of 310 homes and commercial buildings being removed from the property tax role. Now multiply 310 home owners paying $3800 in annual property taxes which equals $1,178,000. Over the last 10 years this tax payer subsidy cost the city of Eden Prairie and shorted tax payers $11,178,000. This tax subsidy is being passed on in the form of increased property tax burden to local Eden Prairie families and businesses.
Does this seem right, just or even sane?
I am a huge advocate of nonprofits that actually share the burden of government such as hospitals, homeless shelters and organizations that return an equitable amount of services back into their local communities.
However, I do not believe that Grace Church and others like it return anything close to $11,178,000 back to the local community of Eden Prairie MN.
While many of the initiatives by Grace Church are good, it does not mean these good efforts should be subsidized by increased property taxes imposed on all faiths, ethic cultures, families and businesses of Eden Prairie MN.
I recommend the city of Eden Prairie MN requires churches pay for supporting their costs in the form of a progressive property tax, or PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes). Many communities across the country are now successfully developing a plan to impose taxes and fees to recover the cost of inequitable tax exemptions for churches and other nonprofits that take more than they give back to the local community.
In a time of economic crises where Americans are forced to move from their homes due to the inability to pay real estate taxes, churches should not be allowed to abuse their status and ride the "no taxes" gravy train.