Tags: Wiccans | Sue | for | Tax-Exempt | Status | Florida

Wiccans Sue for Tax-Exempt Status in Florida

Thursday, 02 November 2000 12:00 AM

The problem, according to the state, is that whether or not it considers Wicca a religion, the group does not meet all of Florida's standards to get a tax break.

Among those requirements is having a permanent address and a building where worshippers gather regularly. Or, as state law puts it, exemptions are available to "churches, synagogues and established religious institutions at which nonprofit religious services and activities are regularly conducted and carried on."

"The statute says we can extend certificates for religious, customary, nonprofit activities, but [the organization] has to have an established physical place for worship," says David Bruns of the Florida Department of Revenue.

To the state, that means renting or owning a space for regular religious services, he says, adding that courts have upheld that interpretation on several occasions

The Wiccans say that interpretation – besides denying their members a break on the 7 percent sales tax on religious books and other materials – denies their rights.

They note the Wiccan Cooperative is tax-exempt on the federal level, where the standard is that a group must qualify as an organization that is "advancing religion," as well as qualify as a charitable or educational organization.

"The Wiccans have a federal tax exemption, but how the state laws are set, [the cooperative] needs to rent or own a permanent space," says Heather Morcroft, a Wiccan and the attorney representing the cooperative. "To us this is impermissible."

At one point, Morcroft says, the organization did have its own space – thus meeting the state's requirement – but because it was only used for special festivals, the cooperative thought it was a waste of money and stopped renting it.

"I would assume that the state's argument for [having an address] was an argument to prevent fraud," she says. "But there are plenty of other ways to prevent fraud without infringing on people's freedom."

Morcroft also maintains the state discriminates when it comes to disseminating texts and literature associated with the religion – which, she says, violates the Constitution.

"The law does not just say you are not a religious establishment because of permanent location," she says. "Under the law, people can buy Bibles, hymn books and prayer books sales-tax free. But frankly, looking at the statute, I think it excludes Korans. People outside of that, including the Wiccans, should be concerned because it leaves the state to define what religious literature is."

Bruns said he was unable to talk about any other specifics about the case because the court documents had not been served to his office as of late today.

He also says state law bars him from discussing anything that may reveal information about taxpayers' returns. "We're not able to say boo about the Wiccan case."

Copyright 2000 ABCNEWS.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
Pre-2008
The problem, according to the state, is that whether or not it considers Wicca a religion, the group does not meet all of Florida's standards to get a tax break. Among those requirements is having a permanent address and a building where worshippers gather regularly. Or,...
Wiccans,Sue,for,Tax-Exempt,Status,Florida
474
2000-00-02
Thursday, 02 November 2000 12:00 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved