Appeals Court Rules Wisconsin Church Can Maintain Tax Exempt Status Despite Receiving Donations from Use of Its Parking Lot

The Rave/Eagles Club of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. | Facebook/ The Rave / Eagles Club

A church in Wisconsin can legally maintain its tax exempt status even though it also receives donations from the use of its parking lot, a state appeals court panel has ruled.

Central United Methodist Church of Milwaukee had been allowing patrons of The Rave/Eagles Club to park at its lot in return for donations to the church.

This prompted the city of Milwaukee to change the designation of the parking lot in 2017 from exempted to “local mercantile,” thus removing the lot’s tax exemption.

In a decision released Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals overturned a circuit court ruling upholding the removal of the tax exemption.

Appeals Court Judge Joseph Donald authored the panel’s opinion, arguing that the donations collected by the church through concert attendee parking was “incidental” and therefore the church was “entitled to a property tax exemption.”

“Central United does not own a for-profit corporation to isolate any for-profit activities, nor does Central United lease out the parking lot to hold for-profit activities,” wrote Donald.

“Central United organized unpaid volunteers to collect donations on concert nights. Volunteers held up signs with a suggested donation amount, however, concert-goers were not required to make donations to use the parking spots.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski