Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas joined ministers from prominent Chicago churches to lead timely seminars on the tax-exemption process to help congregations avoid the specter of tax liens on their schools, parsonages, parking lots and even their places of worship.
The seminars were conducted in advance of the annual sale of delinquent 1998 taxes, which will begin March 27. Pappas, her staff and more than 50 pastors attended sessions at the Baptist Ministers Fellowship at 3555 W. Huron St., and at the Baptist Ministers Conference of Chicago at 7500 S. Halsted St. Ministers received information on paperwork needed to obtain and keep tax-exempt status. Ministers also were told the steps to take if churches let paperwork lapse. Pappas cautioned that tax bills need to be paid or corrected, not ignored. By state law, owners of tax-exempt properties must file to keep that status each year. If a church must pay a bill, it can update its paperwork with the county and the state, and then seek a refund. But if a churchs taxes are sold, that refund will cover only the taxes, not the tax buyers fees and interest, which can quickly run into the thousands of dollars, Pappas said.
This is Pappas second year in office and her second drive to help church leaders protect their properties. Last year, there were 800 church-related properties on the initial delinquency list before the tax sale. This year, there were approximately 400.
Our goal is to eliminate this problem, Pappas said. Coordinating the seminars with Pappas were: the Rev. Leslie Sanders of Hope Presbyterian Church; the Rev. E.J. Jones, Pastor of First Unity Baptist Church; the Rev. George Hendersen, Pastor of Greater Garfield Baptist Church and President of the West Side Baptist Ministers Conference; the Rev. Walter Turner III, Pastor of New Spiritual Life of Jerusalem Church and President of the Baptist Ministers Conference; and the Rev. Johnny Miller, Pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church and President of the United Baptist State Convention of Illinois.
Thanks to the efforts initiated by Treasurer Pappas, Rev. Sanders said, a lot of religious institutions will be excluded from the tax sale, and that will save them a lot of money, rather than going through the tax redemption process.
Religious leaders who were instrumental in helping the Pappas administration organize the seminars included:
- The Rev. E.J. Jones, Pastor, First Unity Baptist Church, 5129 W. Indiana, Chicago.
- The Rev. Leslie Sanders, Pastor, Hope Presbyterian Church, 6100 S. Loomis, Chicago.