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Inc. v. Snyder

Tax Court of Indiana

March 3, 2017

6787 STEELWORKERS HALL, INC., Petitioner,
v.
JON M. SNYDER, ASSESSOR OF PORTER COUNTY, Respondent.

         ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE INDIANA BOARD OF TAX REVIEW

          ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER: JAMES. K. GILDAY GILDAY & ASSOCIATES, P.C. Indianapolis, IN

          ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT: CURTIS T. HILL, JR., ANDREW T. GREIN DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL

          WENTWORTH, J.

         6787 Steelworkers Hall, Inc. ("Local 6787") appeals the Indiana Board of Tax Review's denial of its applications for a charitable or educational purposes property tax exemption for the 2008 and 2010 tax years (the "periods at issue").[1] Upon review, the Court affirms the Indiana Board.

          FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Local 6787, an affiliate of the United Steelworkers of America, is a labor union that is owned by approximately 3, 400 employees of ArcelorMittal's Burns Harbor steel mill (i.e., the members).[2] (See Cert. Admin. R. at 916, 1307, 1311, 1315, 1322, 1324-25.) Local 6787 was organized as a domestic not-for-profit corporation in 1967 and is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(5) organization. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 917-24, 1318-21.) Local 6787's By-laws state its objectives:

First. To unite in [Local 6787], regardless of race, creed, color or nationality, all working men and working women who are members of the United Steelworkers of America (hereinafter referred to as the "International Union") and who are within the jurisdiction of [Local 6787].
Second. To establish through collective bargaining, adequate wage standards, shorter hours of work, and improvements in the conditions of employment for workers in [the] industry.
Third. To engage in educational, legislative, political, civic, social, welfare, community and other activities; to advance and safeguard the economic security and social welfare of workers in [the] industry, the International Union, its Local Unions and the free labor movements of the United States, Canada and the world; to protect and extend our democratic institutions and civil rights and liberties; and to perpetuate and extend the cherished traditions of democracy and social and economic justice in the United States, Canada and the world community.
Fourth. To take all steps and actions consistent with the Constitution and policies of the International Union and these Bylaws, to implement and carry out the objects, rights, activities and responsibilities of this organization and the International Union.
Fifth. [To] . . . affiliate with the appropriate central and local bodies chartered by the Federation and with all district and subdistrict bodies of the United Steelworkers of America.
Sixth. [To] . . . establish a better civic and political relationship within the Burns Harbor Community. It will help to build the image of our [Local 6787], the United Steelworkers of America, and the trade labor Union as a whole in this new community.

(Cert. Admin. R. at 931-32.)

         During the periods at issue, Local 6787 owned a 12, 000 square foot Union Hall and a 22, 000 square foot Meeting Hall situated on 20 acres of land in Porter County, Indiana. (Cert. Admin. R. at 322-24, 1326-27, 1473-74, 1540-42.) The Porter County Assessor assigned the property a total assessed value of $3, 554, 800 in 2008 and $4, 955, 300 in 2010. (Cert. Admin. R. at 322-25, 660.) Local 6787 filed exemption applications for 2008 and for 2010 with the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA) claiming that its property qualified for an exemption because it was used for both charitable and educational purposes. The PTABOA denied both exemption applications.

         Local 6787 sought review of the denials with the Indiana Board. In November of 2013, the Indiana Board conducted a two-day hearing during which Local 6787 offered forty-nine exhibits and the testimony of several witnesses to demonstrate that it used its property for charitable and educational purposes during the periods at issue. For instance, Peter Trinidad, the vice-president of Local 6787, explained that Local 6787, as the "exclusive bargaining agent" for its members, fulfilled the charitable and educational objectives set forth in its By-laws by negotiating and enforcing basic labor agreements (the BLAs) with ArcelorMittal. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 1306, 1308, 1330-32.) Local 6787's ...


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