Kansas Church Will Have to Pay Taxes on State Senate Candidate’s Home

Remember Wichita City Council member and state Senate candidate Michael O’Donnell?

Michael O’Donnell

He’s the guy who said he was living in and paying rent for a house owned by a church (where his father preaches). But the church, as a tax-exempt institution, wasn’t paying taxes on that property… something you’re only allowed to do if a pastor’s living on the property.

That’s a serious problem. And the FFRF alerted the Sedgwick County Appraiser’s Office as soon as they found out.

Now, there’s been a happy resolution to the issue:

The home of Wichita City Council member and state Senate candidate Michael O’Donnell is going back on the tax rolls and his father’s church will get a bill for back taxes through 2010, the Sedgwick County Appraiser’s Office has ruled.

The Rev. Michael O’Donnell, pastor of Grace and father of the council member, said the church will refile a tax exemption request to the Kansas State Board of Tax Appeals, essentially appealing the appraiser’s ruling.

“We apologize that this situation has brought undo negative publicity to Councilman O’Donnell as he has more than met the requirements for his living in the home,” his father said. “We look forward to appearing before the Kansas State Board of Tax appeals and presenting our situation.”

His son said the issue shouldn’t negatively affect the Kansas Senate bid.

“It started out as a political agenda from the Wisconsin atheists,” council member O’Donnell said. “Nothing has changed with this issue being between the church and the county.”

[FFRF attorney Patrick] Elliott chuckled at the accusation.

“We’re an apolitical group, a nonprofit that does not get involved in elections or campaigns,” he said, “but we are concerned about state-church issues, including churches abusing tax privileges, which was the case here.”

You would’ve thought the Christian pastor would have been quicker to remedy the situation instead of placing blame on others. It’s almost as if religion doesn’t make you an honest person… huh. Shocking.

Good thing the atheist group was ready to do the right thing when the Christians were trying to hide from the law.

(Thanks to Scott for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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