City finds way to tax churches and non profits

While the Federal government and the Catholic Church wrestle over healthcare provided contraception and abortions, City and County governments may have found a rather unique method of backdoor taxation on non profits.  They simply double the water bill for all churches and schools.  In a court case that is being carefully watched by churches and non profits across the nation, an Oregon judge will soon decide if the practice is valid.

One of the 600 plus ordinances for the city of Canyonville, Oregon states that “churches, schools, and non-profits like our local YMCA and a non-profit senior residence will be charged double the normal water rates and substantially elevated sewage fees.”  One of the current ordinances explains that the surcharges are to be paid “in lieu of taxes.”   Non-profits and churches do not pay property taxes.

Meanwhile, a sign, proudly posted in the city building tells Canyonville residents that they pay less on their water bills than neighboring towns.  The non-profits, who are paying double, say that their surcharge is the reason.

Canyonville Christian Academy, founded in 1924, stumbled onto the double billing, finding that the extra surcharges date back three decades and may total close to $200,000.  Said the school headmaster, Cathy Lovato, “We offered to settle this for a very modest amount last  Christmas but the city said no.”  The school, which operates on a modest budget, once voted to shut its doors in 1995.  Alumni and friends donated money to help the school rebound.

Although the ordinances are written to broadly cover all non-profit water users, CCA believes that the city regulations have principally targeted ten churches and four Christian schools with the biggest bill going to the Canyonville Christian Academy.

Last June CCA notified the city government that it had discovered the improper billing but according to the Academy nothing has been done to fix the problem.  According to CCA, the city has held four executive/closed council meetings with their legal counsel present.

School officials say that the school has consulted with the Oregon Attorney General, a state legislator, multiple mayors of other cities, and multiple law firms.  According to Ms. Lovato, “To my knowledge, no one has advised CCA that the double charges on churches and church schools is legal.  Many seem to believe that this is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution.”

On October 19, 2011 CCA offered to resolve the issue by taking a small fraction of the amount of overcharges of the last six years in the form of credits on future bills.  Of course, the school also asked that the city desist in the double charges.  According to Ms. Lovato, the city notified the school on December 13, 2011 that their offer was rejected.  Meanwhile, the surcharges on nonprofits by the city continues and is reflected in the most recent water bill mailed to CCA this month.

According to Ms. Lovato, “One of our school staff asked a senior city official a year ago about the rationale and legality of the surcharges, and why they were doing this and he replied, ‘We do it because we can.’”  Canyonville is a small town in Southern Oregon with a population of 1,700.  CCA has appealed to the Douglas County Circuit Court in Roseburg, Oregon to give a ruling on the issue.  If the Court upholds the City Government, it may provide other city and county governments with a backdoor method of taxation on churches and non-profits.  The case is likely to be carefully monitored by churches and non-profit lawyers nationwide.

Note: The Canyonville City Ordinances which declare the double rate are published and available publicly.  Ordinance number 593, Section 1. “Inside the City.”  In paragraph G and H. It states that Schools / Churches shall pay $57.10 per month for the first 1,200. cubic feet, plus $.03214 per cubic foot over the base of 1,200 cubic feet. In addition, schools / churches shall pay $11.04 per month in lieu of taxes.


Published by Doug Wead

Doug Wead is a New York Times bestselling author whose latest book, Game of Thorns, is about the Trump-Clinton 2016 election. He served as an adviser to two American presidents and was a special assistant to the president in the George H.W. Bush White House.

30 thoughts on “City finds way to tax churches and non profits

  1. This is just like the states which can’t legally charge sales tax on out-of-state purchases, and instead charge a “use tax” which doesn’t apply to in-state purchases. It’s a sales tax, but they avoid legal complications by calling it something else.

    I’m not surprised to see skirting around the law by the “progressive” politicians of Oregon.

  2. This is just another way for the left to try to eradicate religion and private charities that do a better job of taking care of the less fortunate than the government.

  3. Calvin,

    The use tax looks like another illegal tax, but it doesn’t target religious institutions, it apparently applies to every for profit and individual entity, with certain exemptions. For example, in Arizona: “Generally, sales made to churches, schools and other non-profit organizations are subject to Transaction Privilege and Use Tax.” Quote comes from Try using a reliable reference before you make a blanket statement.

    It probably hasn’t been challenged yet, because it is so small and not widely enforced.

    1. I didn’t say the use tax was an anti-religious tax.

      I said it’s AKIN to that “let’s charge schools and churches double for water” fee – a way to enact an illegal tax by calling it something else.

      There are no “use taxes” on items bought in-state. Why? Stuff that’s bought in state is “used”, too. It’s a tax which is levied SOLELY on items bought from out of state, and that makes it a tax on interstate commerce, which is illegal.

      But the courts have long held that favorable (to the judges’ worldview) policies can be enacted by double-talking around the law (Superfund applies in spite of the ban on “ex post facto” law, and “civil rights violation” prosecution effectively tries people twice for the same crime).

      It’s the same thing here – schools and churches are being taxed in spite of the law. Given the courts’ general attitude of “it’s OK to violate the law if WE like the result”, I wouldn’t expect a legal challenge to be successful.

  4. I say stop ALL nonprofit taxation. There would be NO need to do something clearly underhanded as raising water prices. ALL corporations NEED to (and yes I see churches as a corporation) pay fairly in to a ‘common’ fair tax system. We need to ditch the IRS and the Federal reserve.

    1. So which is it, churches pay taxes because you think they are corporations, or they don’t pay taxes because they are nonprofits? You’re as confused as Ron Paul! LOL

      1. I’m not confused at all. Churches should pay taxes just like everyone else. Housing a deity does not make you exempt from your shared community responsibilities.

      2. If you tax churches, there will be no reason why churches would be prohibited from supporting individual candidates, as they are currently prohibited from doing, or they risk their tax exempt status. Even the IRS recognizes churches are unique in their contributions and from a First Amendment perspective:

        As a Paulite, you should know your Constitution better! LOL

  5. No, but I say it is.

    You said, “This is just like…” and did NOT use the word “AKIN.” It may be similar, but it isn’t “just like.”

    I know how use taxes work, and others can find some details here:

    I stand by my earlier statement, “It probably hasn’t been challenged yet, because it is so small and not widely enforced.”

  6. “just like” and “akin” are fairly synonymous.

    Your point was that the use tax doesn’t target religious institutions. I never said that it did.

    A “use tax” is simply a sales tax by another term, intended to circumvent the restriction on taxation of interstate commerce. It’s applied in exactly the same way that a sales tax is, and it’s not applied to items which are legally subject to a sales tax.

    My point – which I apparently have to repeat here – is that BOTH of those are simply intellectually dishonest efforts to skirt around the laws banning such taxes.

    I never contradicted your statement about it having not been challenged – I simply said that IF it was challenged, I expected the courts would deny the challenge, since most justices seem to look favorably on any excuse to raise taxes (Colorado’s Supreme Court is notorious for that).

    1. Yes, fairly.

      My point is that use tax DOES target religious institutions and other non-profits.

      I agree the use tax is another form of a sales tax.

      And I agree the use tax is a sales tax with another name.

      And my point is it will probably not get to a court.

  7. And I was referring to “use taxes” which are charged to EVERYONE who makes out-of-state purchases, not taxes by the same name which apply to schools and churches (I actually wasn’t aware that they were subject to that sort of use tax).

    Try to truly understand someone’s argument before making a blanket statement.

    1. Use tax rules vary from state to state. To make a blanket statement without research is stupid. Try to do some research before you make a blanket statement.

  8. Vote YES :

    BAN *tex2* from this site IMMEDIATELY — Never allow IT to post here again! ALSO, DO NOT RESPOND TO ANY OF ITS TROLLING !

    Dear, Doug — this is your HOME page, and all of us posting here are your guests. Don’t know about your tolerance level, but mine ends when an unwelcome guest tries to set my home on fire, in order to chase out all the welcomed people I’ve invited!

    No normal exchange can be held here — since the #2 quickly fills in all REPLY slots….so no-one else can respond sequentially to what was stated before. This is its main goal (secondary is its spittings of hatred to all that’s good)!

  9. Vote to ban the #2 that pollutes this forum with its trolling.

    So far the vote to BAN it — ‘tex2′ — is:

    1) Surfisher
    2) Sharon Kuhn
    3) annebeck58
    4) christopher Deligate of Missouri
    5) donjusko
    6) sharksauce24
    7) sophiah8
    8) rmcnnlly
    9) BanTex2Al
    10) Wendy Jones
    11) Evan Godolphin
    12) Remmic Lewis
    13) Shane Mayfield
    14) jeffrey bohl

    1. To all Americans:

      Spread this video of the only American Patriot — Ron Paul — running in this race!


      The #2 is a paid shill to troll and disrupt this forum with its spewing of hatred. So real Americans can’t converse here without IT hijacking all threads. That’s why this subhuman needs to be banned. One NEVER responds to IT — its existence is to be ignored.

    1. Then watch Mitt the Joke:
      An EMPTY stadium with about a hundred sycophants only… mostly yawning.

      Then see the THOUSANDS of REAL AMERICANS and their genuineness on Ron Paul’s rallies!

      But the main media never shows this REALITY — so, are we to stand by and allow them to steal this Election away from us — when clearly the TRUE Americans have spoken?!

      Spread this video!(

    2. Here is another good one!


      send it!

      The #2 is a paid shill to troll and disrupt this forum with its spewing of hatred. So real Americans can’t converse here without IT hijacking all threads. That’s why this subhuman needs to be banned. One NEVER responds to IT — its existence is to be ignored.

    3. Rmoney — “Staff, get me some internet trolls to spew forth hatred towards my opponents.”

      So they run this ad:

      “Looking for 300+lb pimply failures that live in mum’s basement.
      Must be hateful of all that’s good (since you hate yourself most because of the waste of protoplasm you’ve become); unable to crawl away from the computer, so mum gives you monthly sponge baths (also, occasionally removes the bedpan).
      Why post your venomous spittings for free, when we’ll pay you handsomely to be our Shill — a fistful of food stamps and a bottle of hooch each week!”

      That’s how the #2 got this “lucrative” job — why troll for free, when it can shill for so much more….

      (hope I didn’t misspell ANYTHING important….)

  10. “Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson could pull as much as 6% of the vote in a hypothetical three-way match-up with Mitt Romney and President Obama. Johnson began the 2012 race running for the Republican nomination but has wound up carrying the libertarian banner and could gain ballot access in several states.”

    If the above transpires, it is a certainty that Mitt will not defeat BO (with his flip-flopping, he couldn’t defeat him anyway, now this would assure it).

    So he needs to withdraw now in favor of Ron Paul!

    Ron Paul WILL become President in 2012 — IF, Romney becomes a Patriot, and forgoes his ego, for the Good of the People!

    Mitt Romney could become one of the greatest Statesmen in US History! He’d be the Savior of our Nation — the one that generations to come would tell their children: “Look at this statue, this is Mitt Romney, he saved America”!

    Or, he can reduce himself to just a tiny footnote…what is amazing is that his fate rests in his own hands (a very rare occurrence throughout the history of the world)!

    All Romney has to do, is to take advantage of this rarest of historical moments, and make a SINGLE DECISION!!!

    Withdraw his candidacy IN FAVOR of Ron Paul, with the following grandiose and heart-wrenching patriotic speech (to save his political skin):

    “I, Mitt Romney, will sacrifice my political goals for the Good of the People. Now I understand that only Ron Paul that can save our Nation. I agree with all he stands for, therefore, I have deemed that our Nation’s salvation can only be accomplished when Ron Paul is elected as President of the United States of America. Without regret, but with joy, I do the most honorable and patriotic deed I can — I withdraw myself from this election, and give my full support to Ron Paul!”

    One honest person is needed to bring these logical conclusions to Romney’s PERSONAL ATTENTION (not the myopic sycophants surrounding him and stroking his ego by chanting wishful thinking as ‘fact’: “You gonna win Boss, you gonna win Boss….).

    Regardless how egotistical, arrogant and narcissistic Romney may be, some semblance of reasoning of what’s best for him, should still remain in his skull. The instinct for self preservation dictates that even the smallest of minds will chose the path that leads to safety, not the one leading to disaster.

    An honest realist needs to talk to Romney one-on-one — and explain the following to him, so Mitt can comprehend it:

    1) If you don’t win the nomination, than your political career is over (you’ll become just a tiny footnote in US History as a failure).

    2) If you win the nomination, and don’t defeat Obama — which is the most probable outcome (you’ll become just a tiny footnote in US History as an even LARGER failure).

    Therefore, Dear Mitt, whichever gamble you take from the above, may lead to total disaster for your political career (and probably will)!

    However, here is an action you can take, Dear Mitt, that guarantees you’ll become immortalized in the annals of US History — becoming the 21st Century Savior of America (surely this carrot of success will entice Romney’s egotism to go for it — over the probable political beatings he’d receive otherwise)!

    All one needs to do, to assure Mitt’s Historical Greatness of Sacrifice for the Good of the Nation, is to present the above to Romney’s eyes alone! I urge all able to do so, to place this document in front of him!

    Send this to Mitt Romney — as an Open Letter, e-mails, etc. — the more you send, the greater the chance he’ll get to read it!

  11. *Mitt Romney, American Parasite*

    (Mitt Grosny — Romney The Terrible (my prefered title))

    It explains how Bain Capital worked. They would buy SUCCESSFUL companies, with little down, borrowed huge amounts, saddling them with crushing debt, refused to continue equipment purchases or maintenance. Then they would pay themselves huge “management” fees.

    Some notable excerpts:

    “Romney is not a vulture capitalist, as Rick Perry says, since vultures eat dead carcasses,” notes Josh Kosman, who has written about the private equity business for 15 years. He’s “more of a parasitic capitalist, since he destroys profitable businesses.” (The host must be healthy enough to be force-fed all that debt, then slowly bled to death…until the parasites drain all the wealth for themselves).

    “When Bain was about to buy a company, its partners would hold a meeting. “He said that about half the time [they] would talk about cutting workers,” Kosman says. “They would never talk about adding workers. He said that job growth was never part of the plan.” That claim was buttressed by the Associated Press, which studied 45 companies bought by Bain during Romney’s first decade. It found that 4,000 workers lost their jobs. The real figure is likely thousands higher, since the analysis didn’t account for bankruptcies and factory and store closings.

    “The Armco plant closing involved more than the torching of 750 jobs, Morrow says. Contractors and suppliers collapsed. Workers’ children and widows lost health care and pension benefits. And while Bain received millions in tax breaks—paid for by the very people left holding the bag—Romney walked away millions richer.”

    A must read (long) article recommended to all!

    Share it!

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