San Francisco Set to Tax Catholic Church Millions in Suspected Prop 8 Retaliation
By Kathleen Gilbert
SAN FRANCISCO, January 16, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A San Francisco assessor has called for the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco to hand over $15 million in taxes because of an internal restructuring of the archdiocese, a move that some are describing as "retaliation" for the Church’s opposition to Proposition 8.
Assessor Phil Ting concluded that the Catholic Church owed the city taxes after the archdiocese was restructured and its property, which is almost all used by parish facilities, was consolidated seven months ago.
"Because we knew the accusations (of unfair treatment) could be out there, we worked to look at every single document so we could totally and completely understand their argument," Ting said. "We looked at all the various exemptions that could have been applied, and we felt that none of them were applicable in this case. That meant it was our determination that this was a taxable event."
Ting claimed that because the restructuring involved "separate legal entities," it was "not just a cosmetic" change and therefore liable to be taxed.
The archdiocese immediately filed legal action and questioned the precedent for Ting’s decision.
"San Francisco Recorder Phil Ting has taken a step that is unprecedented in the history of the state of California. He has determined that an internal reorganization of church property, within the family of corporations of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, constitutes a ‘sale’ and is subject to a property transfer tax," archdiocese spokesman Maurice Healy told the San Francisco Chronicle.
"A tax on transfers of property, all owned by the Catholic Church, within the same family of Archdiocesan corporations, is unprecedented in the history of the state of California and the law is overwhelmingly in our favor on this subject," said Healy.
Many are decrying the move as retaliation for the church’s support of California’s same-sex "marriage" ban, as pro-homosexual “marriage” San Francisco residents and politicians have made no secret of their ire at the Catholic Church and other religious groups for supporting Proposition 8.
"This is fishy at the least and evil at the most," Randy Thomasson of California’s Campaign for Children and Families told LifeSiteNews.com. "Phil Ting is doing to the Catholic Church what has not been done in other venues, taking away the Church’s tax-exempt status in regards to property.”
Thomasson said that Ting, "who went head to head with the Catholic church over marriage between a man and a woman ... is aiming his rifles … right at the Catholic Church, and this is something that a higher court should be more just in its analysis."
The call to tax the Catholic and Mormon churches, which helped propel Prop 8 fundraising and campaigning, became a mantra of same-sex "marriage" supporters ever since the amendment passed in November.
During the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast last year, which was attended by Archbishop Niederauer, Mayor Gavin Newsom lambasted the Catholic Church and the archdiocese for their support for Proposition 8. The crowd reportedly responded with a standing ovation - minus the archbishop and a handful of other religious leaders.
Jack Smith of the Catholic Key blog suggested that Ting, who at a No on 8 rally declared he was "proud" to have signed several same-sex "marriage" certificates, had political motives for the aggressive move.
"Any clear-eyed observer might view this action by Ting, who’s rumored to want the Mayor’s chair after Newsom, as pandering to the anti-Catholic sentiment of voters in San Francisco," said Smith.