Watchtower disputes $200K tax bill from Newburgh

by Rattigan350 17 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Rattigan350

    TOWN OF NEWBURGH — The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York is challenging nearly $200,000 in fire and other special district taxes assessed for three Town of Newburgh properties, including two hotels the organization bought to house volunteers helping build its world headquarters in Warwick.

    In a petition filed in Orange County Court last month, the umbrella organization for Jehovah’s Witnesses claimed that the town “either unintentionally as a mistake or intentionally and without lawful authority” miscoded the former Hilton on Crossroads Court and the former Hampton Inn on Route 300 for 2016, 2017 and this year.

    With a combined market value of nearly $23 million, the hotel properties were not assessed town, county and school taxes for those years. But the town assessed $196,000 charges for the Orange Lake Fire District and lighting and water districts during those years.

    Newburgh also assessed $1,600 in special district taxes over three years for a vacant commercial property Watchtower owns at Route 17K and Route 300.

    “Petitioner would not be required to pay the resulting unjust charges if its exemption from taxes had been justly, correctly, and lawfully granted and administered,” Watchtower’s attorneys wrote in the organization’s petition in county court.

    Watchtower bought the two hotel properties in 2014 as it built its 1.6 million-square-foot headquarters on Kings Drive in Warwick. Market value for the Route 300 hotel property is $7,378,500 and for the Crossroads Court hotel $15,435,300, according to county property records.

    The organization applied for exemption under a section of state real property tax law covering property used “exclusively for religious, charitable, hospital, educational, or moral or mental improvement of men, women or children purposes.”

    Instead, the town gave the organization an exemption under a different section of state law covering property owned by a religious organization but used for residential purposes. That exemption still required the payment of special district taxes.

    Watchtower applied in January for refunds of special district payments made on the three properties in 2016 and 2017.

    Its application was denied in a March letter from John McCarey, the county’s director of Real Property Tax Service. McCarey said that Watchtower’s initial exemption application in 2015 was approved for all but special district taxes and that the organization failed to challenge that determination at the time.

    “I believe that all religions improve the quality of life in the area,” Newburgh Supervisor Gil Piaquadio said. “However, in my opinion, not contributing towards volunteer fire districts who would be called upon to fight a fire in these multi-story hotels is unfair to the fire districts and taxpayers.”

    Although Watchtower’s headquarters in Warwick is complete, the two hotel properties are still being used, the organization said in its court filing.

    Volunteers “supporting” the headquarters and Watchtower facilities in the towns of Fishkill, Patterson and Shawangunk used the Hampton, according to court documents. The former Hilton houses volunteers visiting the area for retreats, according to Watchtower.

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  • road to nowhere
    road to nowhere

    Is that one of those places visitors for tours can stay for a "donation'?

    And what the heck is a retreat? I have never heard of those in JWs, just mainline Christendom.

  • dubstepped

    You see, Watchtower doesn't pay for volunteers, volunteers pay Watchtower. That's how it works, in fact, why aren't the volunteer firefighters raising money for Watchtower? I think the assholes should sue the volunteer firefighters for not raising money for them. They are owed by them I'm sure.

    Is it no wonder that JWs were usually awful tippers at restaurants and such? I mean, the organization just takes and takes and takes and shows no appreciation from either the cult members or the general public that might save them one day. Heaven forbid they have to pay for something. If they do, I guess they'll have to have another article or letter and the beatings will continue until morale improves.

  • floridaborn
    They save them money by not calling the police on pedofiles. Therefore they shouldn’t have to pay taxes, makes sense.
  • Anders Andersen
    Anders Andersen

    The county might waive the taxes, then burn those buildings down and see how Watchtower would fare without fire dept. ;-p

  • AverageJoe1

    “Pay Cesar’s things to Cesar but God’s things to God”.... unless you’re the Watchtower, in which case you can totally ignore that law from Jesus!

  • ScenicViewer

    Tax exemption was granted for... owned by a religious organization but used for residential purposes. That exemption still required the payment of special district taxes.

    Since the bldgs were used for "residential purposes" it appears that Watchtower got the tax exemption they should have gotten. If a fire had broken out they would certainly have expected the local fire dept to come to their rescue.

    It'll be interesting to see how this turns out but it seems like Watchtower should pay the tax.

  • smiddy3

    Money according to the W.T. is a one way street ,Money is supposed to come in and not go out , and if it by any chance it should go out, then the R&F have to pick up the tab.

  • neat blue dog
    neat blue dog

    The exemption is only for those that contribute to the

    moral or mental improvement of men, women or children

    So right there, they're disqualified.

  • My Name is of No Consequence
    My Name is of No Consequence

    LOL. They should just pay it and STFU.

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