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 215.1

215.1. Veterans' organization exemption. (a) All buildings, and so much of the real property on which the buildings are situated as may be required for the convenient use and occupation of the buildings, used exclusively for charitable purposes, owned by a veterans' organization which has been chartered by the Congress of the United States, organized and operated for charitable purposes, when the same are used solely and exclusively for the purpose of the organization, if not conducted for profit and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private individual or member thereof, shall be exempt from taxation.

(b) The exemption provided for in this section shall apply to the property of all organizations meeting the requirements of this section and subdivision (b) of Section 4 of Article XIII of the California Constitution and paragraphs (1) to (7), inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section 214.

(c) An organization that files a claim for the exemption provided for in this section shall file with the assessor a valid organizational clearance certificate issued pursuant to Section 254.6.

(d) This exemption shall be known as the "veterans' organization exemption."

History.—Added by Stats. 1973, Ch. 5, p. 5, in effect February 28, 1973, operative March 1, 1973. Stats. 1975, Ch. 224, p. 602, in effect January 1, 1976, substituted "subdivision (b) of Section 4" for "Section 1c" in the first sentence of the second paragraph. Stats. 1987, Ch. 498, effective January 1, 1988, added "California" and deleted "of the State of California" before "Constitution", deleted "of the State of California" after "Constitution", substituted "paragraphs" for "subdivisions" after "and", added "of subdivision (a)" after "inclusive," and deleted "of this code" after "Section 214" in the first sentence of the second paragraph. Stats. 2007, Ch. 449 (SB 1045), in effect January 1, 2008, designated the former first paragraph as subdivision (a) and substituted "the" for "said" after "and occupation of" and substituted "the" for "such" after "the purpose of" in the first sentence therein; designated the former second paragraph as subdivision (b); added subdivision (c); and designated the former third paragraph as subdivision (d).

Note.—Section 5 of Stats. 1973, Ch. 5, provided no payment by state to local governments because of this act.

Note.—Stats. 1972, p. 197, by which this section was first enacted, also provided: It has been stated that former Section 1c of Article XIII of the Constitution is not broad enough to serve to exempt buildings used for meetings and social gatherings of veterans' organizations. However, the Legislature finds that some of these organizations, such as the American Legion, are incorporated for purposes such as the following:

". . . To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America; to promote peace and good will among the peoples of the United States and all the nations of the earth; to preserve the memories and incidents of the two world wars and the other great hostilities fought to uphold democracy; to cement the ties and comradeship born of service; and to consecrate the efforts of its members to mutual helpfulness and serve to their country."

It is established that "charity," as used in Section 1c of Article XIII is not limited to the giving of alms to the poor. It has been defined in a number of cases as a gift to be applied consistently with existing laws, for the benefit of an indefinite number of persons—either by bringing their hearts under the influence of education or religion, by relieving their bodies from disease, suffering, or constraint, by assisting them to establish themselves in life, or by erecting or maintaining public buildings or works, or otherwise lessening the burdens of government.

Moreover, it is recognized that a charitable exemption may be granted to property of organizations providing such diverse services as civic theater performances and recreational opportunities for members of a boys' club for 10 weeks each year.

In acting under Section 1c of Article XIII, the Legislature must necessarily construe the terms of the provision in order to determine the extent of its authority to act thereunder, and the Legislature finds it reasonable to exempt the property of organizations devoted to spreading patriotism and unity and to promoting respect for those who serve their country in the armed services in times of peril, and which bring the hearts of the youth of this state under the influence of education through their various programs (such as Boys State, Boy Scout sponsorship and oratorical contests dealing with the Constitution of the United States), and which lessen the burdens of government through their additional programs (such as veterans employment, Veterans Administration volunteer services in hospitals, and junior baseball).

The members of such an organization must necessarily have some accommodations in which to meet and correlate their activities, and the Legislature finds that such activities are incidental to, and reasonably necessary for, the accomplishment of the exempt activities of such organizations.