Leaders from Christ Anglican Church in Cashiers convinced Jackson County commissioners to waive their property tax bill for 2013 even though they applied for a tax-exempt application after the Feb. 1 deadline.
Father Jim Murphy explained to commissioners that the church acquired the property in September 2012 and renovations continued until May 2013. After construction was finished, the church filed for its tax-exempt status.
“I know ignorance is no excuse,” said Murphy. “But we have already been a benefit to the community. Already we are attracting parishioners from Bryson City, Cashiers, and even Transylvania County.”
Tax Assessor Bobby McMahon was actually at the church taking measurements for the assessment when Murphy learned of the need to file for a tax-exempt status.
“I actually helped him take the measurements,” Murphy said.
Commissioner Mark Jones, who lives in Cashiers, confirmed Murphy’s assertions about the renovation and construction dates.
“They have been doing what a tax-exempt entity would do in the time they have been open,” Jones told fellow commissioners.
McMahon said his office was following standard protocol when it sent the disputed $2,752 tax bill to the church.
“Everyone has to make application to gain a tax-exempt status. If you fail to file in January, you have to file a reason for good cause,” he said. “The state statute does not specifically say what is ‘good cause.’”
The board voted 4-1 to excuse the tax bill, with Chairman Jack Debnam voting against the move. After the meeting, Debnam said his vote was in support of county staff who followed normal procedures and deserved support for their actions.