April 28, 1978
This is in reply to your request of March 23, seeking clarification of whether religious organizations are required to file Form 3 ABC under General Laws, Chapter 59, Section 29.
Under Clause Tenth of Section 5 of Chapter 59, personal property owned by or held in trust within the Commonwealth for religious organizations, whether or not incorporated, is specifically exempt from local property taxation if the principal or income is used or appropriated for religious, benevolent or charitable purposes.
Under Clause Eleventh of said Section 5, houses of religious worship owned by, or held in trust for the use of, any religious organization, and the pews and furniture, and, to an amount not exceeding $100,000 for each parsonage so owned or held, including certain official residences, are also exempt. Any portion of a house of religious worship appropriated for purposes other than religious worship or instruction is not exempt under this clause.
Religious organizations do not qualify for exemption under Clause Third, which applies to organizations with literary, benevolent, charitable or temperance purposes. Our courts have held that these purposes do not encompass religious purposes.
The requirement to file a true list of real and personal estate under G.L. c. 59, sec. 29 applies to all persons holding property for literary, temperance, benevolent, charitable or scientific purposes and is generally applicable to organizations eligible for exemption under G.L. c. 59, sec. 5, Cl. Third. Since religious organizations have been held not to qualify for exemption under Clause Third, such organizations are not required under Section 29 to file Form 3 ABC with respect to property held for religious purposes.
Very truly yours,
/s/Laurence D. Fitzmaurice
Laurence D. Fitzmaurice
Commissioner of Corporations