General Exemptions

67-5-212. Religious, charitable, scientific, educational institutions - Assessment Act.

(a) (1) (A) There shall be exempt from property taxation the real and personal property, or any part thereof, owned by any religious, charitable, scientific or nonprofit educational institution which is occupied and used by such institution or its officers purely and exclusively for carrying out thereupon one (1) or more of the purposes for which the institution was created or exists, or which is occupied and used by another exempt institution purely and exclusively for one (1) or more of the purposes for which it was created or exists under an arrangement where under the owning institution receives no more rent than one dollar ($1.00) per year; provided, that the owning institution may receive a reasonable service and maintenance fee for such use of the property; and provided further, that no church shall be granted an exemption on more than one (1) parsonage, which shall include not more than three (3) acres of land except as hereinafter provided; and provided further, that no property shall be totally exempted, nor shall any portion thereof be pro rata exempted, unless such property or portion thereof is actually used purely and exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific or educational purposes.

(B) Notwithstanding the limitations contained in this subdivision (a)(1), that portion of the real property owned by the headquarters of a religious institution, which was previously used as the campus of a college owned and operated by such institution is exempt from taxation, if such real property is leased to a non-profit organization exempted from the payment of federal income taxes by the United States internal revenue code (26 USC § 501(c)(3)) which is leasing the property from such religious institution to operate a K-12 school and which organization has been accredited by the Tennessee association of non-public academic schools. This exemption shall be granted even though the religious institution is receiving more than a reasonable service and maintenance fee for such use of the property but less than fair market value through a lease agreement with such non-profit organization. Such tax exemption shall be retroactive to the first use and reclassification of property to which it applies.

(2) In determining the exemption applicable to a post-secondary educational institution, there shall be a presumption that the entire original campus of an institution chartered before 1930 is an historical and integral entity, and is exempt so long as no particular portion of such campus is used for nonexempt purposes.

(3) The property of such institution shall not be exempt if:

(A) The owner, or any stockholder, officer, member or employee of such institution shall receive or may be lawfully entitled to receive any pecuniary profit from the operations of that property in competition with like property owned by others which is not exempt, except reasonable compensation for services in effecting one (1) or more of such purposes, or as proper beneficiaries of its strictly religious, charitable, scientific or educational purposes; or

(B) The organization thereof for any such avowed purpose be a guise or pretense for directly or indirectly making any other pecuniary profit for such institution, or for any of its members or employees, or if it be not in good faith organized or conducted exclusively for one (1) or more of these purposes.

The real property of any such institution not so used exclusively for carrying out thereupon one (1) or more of such purposes, but leased or otherwise used for other purposes, whether the income received there from be used for one (1) or more of such purposes or not, shall not be exempt; but if a portion only of any lot or building of any such institution is used purely and exclusively for carrying out thereupon one (1) or more of such purposes of such institution, then such lot or building shall be so exempt only to the extent of the value of the portion so used, and the remaining or other portion shall be subject to taxation.

(b) (1) Any owner of real or personal property claiming exemption under this section or § 67-5-207§ 67-5-213 or § 67-5-219 shall file an application for the exemption with the state board of equalization on a form prescribed by the board, and supply such further information as the board may require to determine whether the property qualifies for exemption. No property shall be exempted from property taxes under these sections unless the application has been approved in writing by the board. A separate application shall be filed for each parcel of property for which exemption is claimed. An application shall be deemed filed on the date it is received by the board or, if mailed, on the postmark date. The applicant shall provide a copy of the application with any supporting materials to the assessor of property of the county in which the property is located. An application for exemption pursuant to this section or any other section referring to these procedures shall be treated as an appeal for purposes of § 67-5-1512.

(2) The board shall make an initial determination granting or denying exemption through its staff designee, who shall send written notice of the initial determination to the applicant and the assessor of property. Either the assessor of property or the applicant may appeal the initial determination to the board and shall be entitled to a hearing prior to any final determination of exemption. The assessor shall maintain on file copies of any approved applications. Upon approval of exemption, it is not necessary that the applicant reapply each year, but the exemption shall not be transferable or assignable and the applicant shall promptly report to the assessor any change in the use or ownership of the property which might affect its exempt status.

(3) Any institution claiming an exemption under this section which has not previously filed an application for and been granted an exemption for a parcel must file an application for exemption with the state board of equalization by May 20 of the year for which exemption is sought. If the application is approved, the exemption will be effective as of January 1 of the year of application or as of the date the exempt use of such parcel began, whichever is later. If application is made after May 20 of the year for which exemption is sought, but prior to the end of the year, the application may be approved but will be effective for only a portion of the year determined as follows:

(A) If application is filed within thirty (30) days after the exempt use of the property began, exemption will be effective as of the date the exempt use began or May 20, whichever is later; or

(B) If application is filed more than thirty (30) days after the exempt use began, the exemption will be effective as of the date of application.

Until December 31, 1997, notwithstanding the date of application, the board may establish an effective date of exemption up to one (1) year earlier than the date of application, dating back no earlier than the date the exempt use began, to the extent the property does not exceed three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000) in value.

(4) All questions of exemption under this section shall be subject to review and final determination by the board; provided, that any determination by the board is subject to judicial review by petition of certiorari to the appropriate chancery court. All other provisions of law notwithstanding, no property shall be entitled to judicial review of its status under this statute except as provided by the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, and only after the exhaustion of administrative remedies as provided in this section.

(5) The state board of equalization may revoke any exemption approved under this section if it determines that the exemption was approved on the basis of fraud, misrepresentation or erroneous information, or that the current owner or use of the property does not qualify for exemption. The executive secretary of the board may initiate proceedings for revocation on the executive secretary's own motion or upon the written complaint of any person upon a determination of probable cause. Revocation shall not be retroactive unless the order of revocation incorporates a finding of fraud or misrepresentation on the part of the applicant or failure of the applicant to give notice of a change in the use or ownership of the property as required by this section.

(c) As used in this section, "charitable institution" includes any nonprofit organization or association devoting its efforts and property, or any portion thereof, exclusively to the improvement of human rights and/or conditions in the community.

(d) (1) The property, or any part thereof, owned by any religious, charitable, scientific or educational membership nonprofit organization chartered by the United States congress shall not be denied exemption because administrative, social or recreational activities of such organization are conducted thereon, where the activities are:

(A) Agencies for the advancement and enlargement of the purposes for which the organizations exist;

(B) In furtherance of the general purposes of such organization; or

(C) Promote the interest of its membership in such organizations.

(2) When property is owned by corporations organized for the exclusive purpose of holding title to property for use of any organization which itself qualifies for such exemption from taxation under this subsection (d), only such property of the corporation, or such parts thereof, as would be entitled to an exemption under this subsection (d) if owned directly by such organization shall not be denied exemptions.

(3) The exemption of property or parts thereof under this subsection (d) shall be applicable only to such part of the property on which such organization conducts administrative, social or recreational activities if it is less than the entire property.

(e) (1) There shall be exempt from property taxation the property of labor organizations exempted from the payment of federal income taxes by the United States Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(5)), when such property is not used for revenue producing profit, but is used by such organization for charitable or educational meetings, but if part of the property is used for revenue producing profit, then the part so used shall not be exempt from property taxation; provided, that the real property on which the building is situated shall be exempt from property taxation.

(2) No such organization which discriminates against any person based upon race, sex, religious beliefs or national origin shall be eligible for the property tax exemption authorized by this subsection (e).

(f) There shall be exempt from property taxation the property or any part thereof of nonprofit artificial breeding associations chartered under the provisions of the Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation Act, compiled in title 48, chapters 51-68.

(g) (1) In the case of property that is owned by any religious, charitable, scientific or educational institution and on which such institution constructs improvements to be occupied and used by such institution or its officers purely and exclusively for carrying out thereupon one (1) or more of the purposes for which the institution was created or exists, the property, to the extent of the value of the improvements constructed thereon for these purposes, shall be considered to be occupied and used by the institution or its officers purely and exclusively for the institution's purposes from and after, but not before, the commencement of the construction of the improvements and to the extent of such value shall be exempt from taxation; provided, that if the improvements upon completion are not so occupied and used, then no part of the value of the property shall be exempt from taxation during the construction of the improvements.

(2) If upon completion of the improvements a portion thereof is not so used and occupied, such portion shall not be exempt from taxation during construction.

(3) If the improvements upon completion are not occupied and used by such institution or its officers for a period of ten (10) years, purely and exclusively for carrying out thereupon one (1) or more of the purposes for which such institution was created or exists, the institution shall be liable for the full amount of property taxes that would otherwise have been due and payable during the period of construction, plus penalties and interest as provided in this title.

(4) Construction begun, and having the effect of activating the provisions of this subsection (g), shall be completed within five (5) years or the effect of this subsection shall be null and void.

(h) There shall be exempt from property taxation the property or any part thereof of fraternal organizations exempted from the payment of federal income taxes by the United States Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)), to the extent that such property is used not for revenue-producing profit, but directly, physically and exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific and educational activities.

(i) There shall be exempt from property taxation the property, or any part thereof, of nonprofit county fair associations.

(j) There shall be exempt from property taxation the property or any portion thereof containing one (1) residential dwelling located in a community park which is open to entry by the general public, if such dwelling is owned by a nonprofit religious, charitable, educational or scientific organization which does not receive income from the resident thereof, if such resident does not occupy the dwelling in lieu of a salary, and if such resident by such resident's presence would discourage or prohibit damage or destruction by vandalism of the organization's property.

(k) There shall be exempt from property taxation any property upon which a caretaker's dwelling is located if:

(1) The dwelling is located upon land owned by a nonprofit member organization chartered by the United States congress;

(2) The land immediately surrounding the dwelling is used by such organization for nonprofit religious, charitable, educational or scientific purposes; and

(3) The caretaker's presence is required for the physical security of the users of the property as well as to discourage or prohibit damage or destruction of the organization's property by vandalism.

(l) The general assembly finds that public radio broadcasting serves a valid educational purpose so long as the broadcaster holds an educational broadcast license issued by the federal communications commission; and, therefore, that property, or any part thereof, owned by a public radio station which is an affiliate member of the public broadcasting network, and which holds such a license, whether as a transferee, successor, or otherwise, of a license formerly held by the public library board of any county having a metropolitan form of government, shall be exempt from property taxation to the extent the property is used in a manner consistent with the license.

(m) The general assembly finds that public television broadcasting serves a valid educational purpose so long as the broadcaster holds a noncommercial educational broadcast license issued by the federal communications commission. Therefore, that property, or any part thereof, owned by a public television station which is an affiliate member of the public broadcasting network, and which holds such license, whether as a transferee, successor, or otherwise, of a license formerly held by the public school board of any county having a metropolitan form of government shall be exempt from property taxation to the extent the property is used in a manner consistent with the license.