Campground Owned by For-Profit LLC and Used by Boy Scouts of America Qualifies for 100% Property Tax Exemption in Indiana | Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

A taxpayer does not have to be a not-for-profit corporation in order for their property to qualify for the Indiana charitable exemption. The Indiana Board of Tax Review confirmed this in a final ruling issued on November 9, 2021 in Wildwood Forest, LLC vs. Vigo County Assessor. In this case, the county council denied a property tax exemption for Camp Wildwood. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) previously owned the campground. In 2017, faced with financial problems, BSA sought to sell the property. A former local Scout, concerned that the loss of the campground would hurt local Scouting, formed an LLC (of which he was the only member) and purchased the property in 2020.

The LLC allows BSA to use the campground free of charge for activities such as camping, leadership training, and other Scouting events. No other third party has been authorized to use the property. The appraiser objected to an exemption for the property as of the valuation date of January 1, 2021, arguing that the LLC is a private, for-profit entity “that can do whatever it wants with the property. , at any time ”. Further, the appraiser claimed that the use of the property only benefits BSA and not the rest of the community.

The Commission summarized the charitable exemption:

Indiana Code § 6-1.1-10-16 (a) provides an exemption for all or part of a building that belongs to, and is exclusively or primarily used and occupied, for educational, literary, scientific, religious or charitable purposes. LC. § 6-l.1-10-16 (a); LC. § 6-l.1-10-36.3 (a), (c). The exemption generally extends to the land on which the building is located and to personal property owned and used in such a way that it would be exempt if it were a building. IC § 6-ll-10-16 (c), (e). Unity of ownership, occupation and use by a single entity is not required. But each entity must have its own exempt lens. Once these three elements are combined, it does not matter by whom, the good is entitled to the exemption.

(citing Hamilton Cnty. Prop. App tax assessment Bd. v. Oaken Bucket Partners, LLC, 938 NE2d 654, 657 (Ind. 2010) (emphasis added)).

Council noted that “no one seriously disputes that BSA used Camp Wildwood for exemption purposes. And the LLC “owned the property only to facilitate the exempt purposes of BSA.” That the LLC wants to block the development of the property does not disqualify it from the exemption; rather the former scout / single member “didn’t want the property to be developed because he was committed to maintaining a campground where young men and women could continue the scouting activities that he and his family had been supporting ever since. so long “. The LLC owned the campground to facilitate BSA exempt activities, not to make a profit. “Because the property was owned, occupied and used exclusively for exempt purposes,” the Commission found it to be 100% exempt.

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