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ICC Note: La Paz County of Arizona is illegally forcing Church of the Isaiah 58 Project of Arizona to pay $68,000 or else face foreclosure. Despite the fact that the Arizona Department of Revenue has stated that the church does not owe the tax, La Paz County continues to enforce the unreasonable payment. Unless they can raise the funds before their deadline, this church, which has been an integral part of the community in helping the homeless, will be forced to close its doors. While the motives behind this specific case are unclear, increasingly across the US reports are emerging of local and state governments using various ordinances to place undue restrictions on Christian places of worship.

06/02/2014 United States (Charisma News) – 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.”

Under state law, the church qualified for an exemption from property taxes and filed the appropriate paperwork with the La Paz County property assessor. The assessor sat on the church’s paperwork for three years before granting a tax exemption and then only granted it for the years 2009 and later, leaving the church with back-taxes for 2007-2008 that it should not owe.

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