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Supreme Court to Hear Arguments Against Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions

A New York City taxpayer’s claim that real estate tax exemptions granted religious institutions are unconstitutional will be taken up by the United States Supreme Court. The court agreed today to consider the appeal brought against the New York City Tax Commission by Frederick Walz. It will schedule arguments next fall or winter and follow with a written opinion.

Mr. Walz, who is acting as his own attorney, contends that tax exemptions for religious institutions, granted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, constituted involuntary payment by him, as a property owner, to the religious group in violation of his First Amendment right to freedom of religion. He claimed further that it represented a confiscation of his property “without due process of law.”

Mr. Walz carried his appeal from the New York State Supreme Court to the State Appellate Division, to the U.S. Court of Appeals, then to the Supreme Court to The lower courts all dismissed it. The Supreme Court recently dismissed two challenges to such tax exemptions for want of “a substantial Federal question.”