Well this is an interesting development, though I don’t know that it’s really legitimate. The Acton Institute, a Christian right organization in Grand Rapids, has lost its state and local tax exemption as a non-profit, though it is still recognized at the federal level.
What may be a recognized nonprofit at the federal level may not meet the standards of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a nonprofit think tank that, according to its website, organizes “seminars aimed at educating religious leaders of all denominations, business executives, entrepreneurs, university professors, and academic researchers in economics principles, and in the connection that can exist between virtue and economic thinking.”
According to Grand Rapids city assessor Scott Engerson in a rejection letter to the Institute, Acton “does not meet nonprofit charitable requirements according to case law.” Expanding on Engerson’s comment, Grand Rapids city attorney Catherine Mish stated in an online comment, “Acton does not qualify as a nonprofit educational institution under state property tax law because it’s not part of educational system that’s provided by the state and supported by public funds.”Acton’s executive director, Kris Mauren, said in a statement, “We are disappointed with the city assessor’s ruling, but we are confident that our appeal will be successful. Not only has Acton been successfully operating as a nonprofit since it’s founding in Grand Rapids in 1990, but our local educational, research and community outreach during these nearly 25 years has been extensive and growing.”
I haven’t seen any of the actual data used to justify this decision, but in general the definition of an educational non-profit is very broad. It’s hard for me to imagine that they don’t meet it. This is the same group that held that panel discussion on religious diversity recently that included only three Calvinists. I’ll be curious to see what happens to this on appeal.