The Eagles have not Landed an Indiana Property Tax Exemption for Lodge

by Faegre Baker Daniels

On March 18, 2014, the Indiana Tax Court clipped the wings of the Fraternal Order of Eagles #3988, affirming the denial of a property tax exemption for its lodge in Mooresville as of the March 1, 2006 assessment date.  In Fraternal Order of Eagles #3988, Inc. v. Morgan County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals, the Court considered whether the lodge (which included social and entertainment rooms, a kitchen, offices and storage areas) qualified for the fraternal beneficiary association or charitable purposes exemptions.  The Eagles used the lodge for a variety of events – to raise funds for charity and needy families and to host private events for members such as dances, pool tournaments, and bingo.  On occasion, other charitable organizations could use the facility without charge.  At the administrative hearing, the Eagles introduced a charitable donations record, monthly profit/loss statements, several affidavits regarding the property’s exempt use, and a usage report.

The fraternal beneficiary association exemption did not apply.  Property owned by a “fraternal beneficiary association” incorporated, organized or licensed under Indiana law and occupied and exclusively used by the association to further its purpose is exempt from property tax under Ind. Code § 6-1.1-10-23.  The Eagles never got off the ground with this argument, failing to show that it was a qualified association.  The Eagles squawked at the definition of “fraternal beneficiary association” applied by the Indiana Board, which relied upon a 1970 opinion by the Court of Appeals.  Instead, the Eagles cited a 1944 Attorney General Opinion to support its claim.  The Tax Court explained, “Official opinions of the Attorney General have no precedential value and they are not judicially binding.”  Slip op. at 5 (citations omitted).  Nevertheless, the opinion and the court decision were not contradictory; therefore, the Board’s final determination wasn’t contrary to law on this basis.  Slip op. at 6.  And the Board didn’t ignore evidence showing the property was used for fraternal and charitable purposes.  The Eagles’ evidence was often conclusory and therefore could not “independently demonstrate” that it met the elements of an association under Ind. Code § 27-11-1-1, such as the requirement that it have a representative form of government.  Slip op. at 8.

The charitable purpose exemption did not apply.   Property owned, occupied, and exclusively or predominantly used for charitable purposes qualifies for exemption under Ind. Code § 6-1.1-10-16.  The Eagles took this argument to the limit, but one more time the Court rejected its claim.  It asked the Court to find that using property for fraternal purposes was “synonymous with using property for charitable purposes because fraternal organizations collectively seek to promote the general welfare of their members and society in general.”  Slip op. at 9.  The Court, however, declined to reach this conclusion where there was no evidence of a legislative intent to equate use for fraternal purposes with use for charitable purposes.  Slip op. at 9.  Finally, while the lodge was used for social, recreational and charitable purposes, the usage report submitted by the Eagles did not compare the relative amounts of time the property was used for exempt and non-exempt purposes – a fatal flaw that grounded any hopes of a full or partial exemption.  Slip op. at 10.  The Indiana Board’s denial of an exemption for the lodge was affirmed.  Id.



Written by:

Faegre Baker Daniels

Faegre Baker Daniels on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.