Seizures of hanging churches in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee is suspending any foreclosure involving a church while seeking clarification after a group of pastors called for a moratorium on the taxation and taking of tax-exempt property, officials said.

Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer and City Treasurer Spencer Coggs announced Monday that they are seeking clarification on churches that have lost their property tax exemption for property belonging to or part of the church. of their property was taxed even though it was used for ecclesiastical purposes, according to a press release.

“Churches deserve fairness and the city attorney and I want to make sure the tax exemption process is fair for everyone,” Coggs said.

“In the meantime, the city treasurer and I have agreed that no foreclosure proceedings will be initiated against property owned by the church until we have clarification on this important issue for the churches and our community. city, ”Spencer said.

A group of Milwaukee pastors held a press conference with Rev. Jesse Jackson on Nov. 30, in which they called for a moratorium on the taxation and taking of tax-exempt property, officials said. It was followed by a meeting with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who responded with a letter to Spencer raising several questions, according to a press release.

“I fully agree that a tax-exempt church should not be taxed, and that state law allows tax exemptions for qualifying church property,” Barrett said in a dated letter. December 1.

Pastors then expressed new concerns that the city was “taxing and taking” their properties at the finance and staff committee meeting on December 8. According to a press release, Pastor Stephen Tipton of El Bethel Church of God in Christ said the exempt properties were taxed and then acquired by the city for non-payment of taxes.

Spencer responded to Barrett’s request on Dec. 14 and said the Common Council had the power to waive or refund taxes that were assessed on church property that was exempt from tax when taxes went. been evaluated.

Spencer and Coggs will stay any foreclosure involving a church for a reasonable period of time while seeking clarification and investigating the matter, officials said.

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