Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

November 25, 2013

Board eyes $1.1M Ind. home on tax-exempt property

VALPARAISO, Ind. — A $1.1 million northern Indiana home has attracted the attention of local tax officials who want to know how the property it sits on obtained a tax exemption.

Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder said former members of the county's Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals granted a religious tax exemption in 2009 for the 36 acres of land the Valparaiso home sits on and the property's two barns.

But Snyder said the home's registered owner hasn't been paying taxes on the house either. For the 8,700-square-foot, two-story house to qualify for a religious exemption, he said it would have to be used predominantly for religious purposes.

"Those are the questions that need to be asked," he told The Times.

The current members of the property tax-assessment board will question the homeowner Dec. 16.

Snyder said the homeowner runs an online church sermon provider called PreachIt Inc. but his office has been unable to reach a Preachit representative.

James Smith, who's identified by the Indiana Secretary of State's office as the registered agent of the Preachit nonprofit corporation, declined to comment on the pending inquiry about his tax-exempt status.

However, he said that PreachIt.org, which claims to offer more than 3,900 manuscript and outlined sermons, is just a small part of what the group does.

"There's a whole lot more," Smith said, declining to elaborate.

Preachit Inc. declared $24,580 in personal property associated with the corporation for the first time this year and will receive a tax bill in 2014, according to the county assessor's office.

The site is zoned A1 general agriculture, which allows various agricultural and residential uses, according to the county planners office. That office knew of no special exceptions granted for other uses at the site.

___

Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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