County Forcing Small Arizona Church to Shut Down by June 15 Unless It Pays $68,000 In Back-Taxes, Penalties

Isaiah 58 Project of Arizona's street sign (ADF)
Isaiah 58 Project of Arizona’s street sign (ADF)

La Paz County is forcing a small Quartzsite church that helps the homeless to close its doors by June 15 unless it pays $68,000 in back-taxes and penalties that both state law and the Arizona Department of Revenue say the church doesn’t owe.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Church of the Isaiah 58 Project of Arizona in a lawsuit over the taxes, but because state courts have been unwilling to defer payment of the back-taxes until litigation has completed, the congregation is now facing foreclosure because it operates on a shoestring budget of only $50,000 per year.

Supporters of the church have contributed money to help it pay the illegal tax bill so that it can stay open and continue its lawsuit, but it still needs about $30,000 to avoid foreclosure due to a tax lein on its property.

“Churches shouldn’t live in fear of being punished by the government when they’ve not done anything wrong, but that’s precisely what is happening to this church. If La Paz County officials have their way, this church will lose everything,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley.

“The county assessor illegally levied these taxes against the church even though the Arizona Department of Revenue provided a letter stating that the church should owe no taxes. We join community leaders and the homeless whom the church serve in hoping that the church will obtain the amount it needs to continue operating and to continue its legal fight against this injustice.”

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SOURCE: Alliance Defending Freedom