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WEST INDIES MISSION APPEAL. (01/17/56)

January 17, 1956

WEST INDIES MISSION APPEAL.


Appeal, No. 115, April T., 1955, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County, Sept. T., 1952, No. 287, in re assessment for year 1952 of certain real estate in Brushvalley Township, Indiana County, Pa. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

J. R. Simpson, with him Fisher, Ruddock & Simpson, for appellant.

Earl R. Handler and G. S. Parnell, with them Parnell, Handler & Malcom, for appellees.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, and Ervin, JJ.

Author: Gunther

[ 180 Pa. Super. Page 217]

OPINION BY GUNTHER, J.

This is an appeal from the order of the court below, which held that the appellant was not entitled to an exemption from real estate taxes as a public charity. The appellant recently came into ownership and possession

[ 180 Pa. Super. Page 218]

    of over 900 acres of land in Indiana County and thereupon filed an application for exemption from local taxation. The Board of Tax Assessments and Revision of Taxes granted a partial exemption. On appeal the court below denied the right to any exemption whatsoever.

The West Indies Mission, the appellant, is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to nonsectarian missionary work in the West Indies. None of its actual missionary work is conducted within the territorial limits of the United States of America. The land in question, which constitutes approximately 6 1/2% of the taxable real estate in the township, is used by appellant as its headquarters. There live the headquarters staff and their families as well as those missionaries who occasionally return from the West Indies for rest and rehabilitation. Meetings and conventions are also held there as well as training of new missionaries. In addition some farming is done in order to defray expenses.

Article IX, ยง 1 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania authorizes the legislature to create certain tax exemptions, as follows: "All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be levied and collected under general laws; but the General Assembly may, by general laws, exempt from taxation public property used for public purposes, actual places of religious worship, places of burial not used or held for private or corporate profit, institutions of purely public charity..." (Italics supplied). The exemption sought by appellant was enacted in the Act of May 21, 1943, P.L. 571, Art. II, Section 202, 72 P.S. 5453, 202 as follows: "(a) The following property shall be exempt from all county, borough, town, township, road, poor, county institution district and school (except in cities) tax, to wit:

[ 180 Pa. Super. Page 219]

(3) All hospitals, universities, colleges, seminaries, academies, associations and institutions of learning, benevolence or charity, with the grounds thereto annexed and necessary for the occupancy and enjoyment of the same, founded, endowed and maintained by public or private charity: Provided, that the entire revenue derived by the same be applied to the support and to increase the efficiency and facilities ...


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