Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2017

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 2. Assessment

CHAPTER 1. Taxation Base

Article 1. Taxable and Exempt Property

Section 207

207. Religious exemption. Property used exclusively for religious purposes shall be exempt from taxation. Property owned and operated by a church and used for religious worship, preschool purposes, nurseryschool purposes, kindergarten purposes, school purposes of less than collegiate grade, or for purposes of both schools of collegiate grade and schools less than collegiate grade but excluding property used solely for purposes of schools of collegiate grade, shall be deemed to be used exclusively for religious purposes under this section.

The exemption provided by this section is granted pursuant to the authority in subdivision (b) of Section 4 of Article XIII of the California Constitution, and shall be known as the "religious exemption."

This section shall be effective for the 1977–78 fiscal year and fiscal years thereafter.

History.—Added by Stats. 1981, Ch. 542, in effect January 1, 1982. Stats. 1983, Ch. 120, in effect June 22, 1983, substituted "1977–78" for "1982–83" in the third paragraph.

Note.—Section 1 of Stats. 1981, Ch. 542, provided that the purpose of this act is to provide a simple, streamlined claims process for churches and church schools in filing for property tax exempt status, effective with the 1982–83 fiscal year.

The creation of a "religious exemption" by this act will allow any church to file either for the "church exemption" or the "religious exemption." A church which operates a church school, which formerly had to file a church exemption for the church property, and a welfare exemption for the school portion of the property, will henceforth be able to file a "religious exemption" for the entire property. After an initial claim, the exemption remains in effect until the property is no longer eligible for the exemption, with minimal annual filing requirements thereafter.

The "welfare exemption" remains applicable to some religious purposes, such as hospitals, educational FM radio or television stations, and certain housing owned by churches, which will continue to be covered by that exemption alone. Church schools may also continue to file for that exemption if desired, but the "religious exemption" offers the simplified claims process.

Note.—Section 8 of Stats. 1981, Ch. 542, provided no payment by state to local government as a result of this act because there are savings as well as costs in this act which, in the aggregate, do not result in additional net costs.