Valley Baptist Church v. City of San Rafael

Facts: Property owners in a city approve a special property tax to cover the cost of paramedic services within city boundaries. The special taxes becomes a lien on all property within the city, including property used to operate a religious institution. The owner of a property used as religious institution pays the amount of special taxes due then demands a refund for overpayment as exempt from property taxes, which the city denies.

Claim: The property owner claims it is exempt from all property-related taxes including the paramedic tax since the property is used for religious institutional purposes.

Counterclaim: The city claims the property is not exempt from liability for the voter approved special tax since the tax is not an ad valorem property tax from which religious organizations are exempt.

Holding: A California appeals court holds the property owner is not entitled to a refund since the religious institution exemption from property taxes does not extend to voter approved special taxes. [Valley Baptist Church v. City of San Rafael (2021) 61 CA5th 401]

Read the text of the case here