Under a new law signed by Governor McCrory, your church could qualify for additional tax breaks. House Bill 229 extends property tax exemptions for churches and other religious facilities before they are open — if they are considered to be “under construction.” Normally, property tax exemptions only apply to religious property (land or structures) when that property is actually in use, not when they are being held for future use.
House Bill 229, which passed the House almost unanimously, allows property tax exemptions to qualified religious organizations for buildings that are also “under construction” — meaning that the owner has a building permit in place for the property — and the property will be used wholly and exclusively by its owner for religious purposes upon completion.
The law effectively extends the timeframe for tax exemption to start from the time when the religious organization first is issued a building permit.
The tax exemption for religious property deemed “under construction” ends either 90 days after the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy or 180 days after the end of construction, whichever is earlier. The end of the exemption allows local governments to return property to taxable status if the building project is abandoned or fails to be used as intended within that timeframe.
House Bill 229 also helps people attend worship services if their driver’s license has been restricted by order of the court. Typically, folks who have their full driving privileges revoked are granted exceptions for essential purposes, including driving to and from work, school, court-ordered substance abuse treatment and education facilities, and for emergency medical care. The new law now includes in that list places of worship.