Houston Matters

Tax Exempt Status for Churches: What’s the Impact on Greater Houston?

Since 1894, churches have been exempt from paying federal income taxes, and they’re also exempt from paying property taxes in all 50 states. This can sometimes be a contentious issue like in Friendswood recently, when a church bought 135 acres of land and applied for a tax exemption on the entire property — with an […]


Since 1894, churches have been exempt from paying federal income taxes, and they’re also exempt from paying property taxes in all 50 states.

This can sometimes be a contentious issue like in Friendswood recently, when a church bought 135 acres of land and applied for a tax exemption on the entire property — with an intent to only use 40 acres of it for their church.

That led Friendswood City Council to file a lawsuit against Clear Creek Community Church to try and prevent this from happening, but the city has since called off such a lawsuit.

To learn more about this story, Edel Howlin sat down with Stephen Garcia, editor of the Friendswood-Pearland edition of Community Impact Newspapers. Garcia has been following this story since last year and filled Edel in on the importance of this piece of land in Friendswood.

Then, to get a better understanding of how tax laws apply differently to churches, we talk with Dru Stevenson of South Texas College of Law. He specializes in nonprofit law.

MORE: Friendswood City Council Approves Legal Action Against Clear Creek Community Church (Friendswood Journal, April 5, 2016)

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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