WHITELICK INDIANA AERIE 3702 FRATERNAL ORDER OF EAGLES, INC. Petitioner,
HENDRICKS COUNTY PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT BOARD OF APPEALS AND HENDRICKS COUNTY ASSESSOR, Respondent.
APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE INDIANA BOARD OF TAX
ATTORNEYS FOR PETITIONERS: WILLIAM W. BARRETT WILLIAMS
BARRETT & WILKOWSKI LLP Greenwood, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT: CURTIS T. HILL, JR. ATTORNEY
GENERAL OF INDIANA WINSTON LIN DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
E. GIAQUINTA, SPECIAL JUDGE INDIANA TAX COURT.
case concerns whether the Indiana Board of Tax Review (the
"Indiana Board") Conclusions determining that
Whitelick Indiana Aerie 3207 Fraternal Order of Eagles, Inc.
("Aerie 3207") was not entitled to a property tax
exemption under either Indiana Code § 6-1.1-10-23 or
Indiana Code § 6-1.1-10-16 were not in accordance with
law. The court affirms.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
3207 was incorporated in Indiana as a domestic,
not-for-profit corporation, with no capital stock, for the
following purposes as set forth in its Articles of
(a) To strengthen the bonds of fraternity between local
Aeries, State Aeries and the Grand Aerie of the Fraternal
Order of Eagles;
(b) To promote the patriotic, humanitarian and fraternal
teachings of the Fraternal Order of Eagles; and
(c) To inculcate among the members a sense of their
individual obligation to their community, to their state and
to their nation.
3207 is a local chapter instituted by the authority of the
Grand Aerie of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. The Grand Aerie
is the supreme governing body. Local Aerie chapters are part
of individual Districts and Zones within each state Aerie.
These state Aeries are part of Regions. Aerie 3207 uses the
term "Grand Aerie" to refer to what appear to be
two separate things: (1) the society itself (the Fraternal
Order of Eagles), and (2) its supreme governing body (the
Grand Aerie). The society's constitution requires local
aeries to adopt by-laws that the Grand Aerie must approve.
the 2013 and 2014 tax years, Aerie 3207 owned two parcels
located at 5556 East U.S. Highway 40, Plainfield. The larger
parcel is a 4.4-acre tract with a 7, 560-square-foot lodge, a
surface parking lot, a shelter house, horseshoe pits, and a
playground. Members gather at the property to socialize. The
lodge is comprised of three main sections: (1) a social room
with a restaurant and bar used exclusively by members, (2) a
banquet hall, and (3) offices, meeting rooms and restrooms.
Each of these sections accounts for approximately 33% of the
total building. And, the lodge contains personal property
used for the organization's activities such as kitchen
equipment, table, chairs, dish and glassware and office
banquet hall functions as a party room, bingo room and
ballroom. For example, Aerie 3207 holds weekly bingo nights
open to the public. Non-members can rent the banquet hall for
weddings, receptions and other events. Those rentals occur
approximately 8-10 times per year. Aerie 3207 also donates
use of the banquet hall, meeting rooms, and outside
facilities to the Chamber of Commerce, various charities,
local organizations, youth groups, and businesses.
various times during the years under appeal, the lodge and
surrounding grounds were used for weekly bingo nights; 52
Club drawings; Annual Charity Ball/Sweetheart Dance; banquet
hall rentals; Eagles Riders Club raffles and charity rides;
fundraising for the State Aerie and State Auxiliary projects;
collecting goods for the Grand Aerie's Operation Eagle
program; member's funeral dinners; dart tournaments; real
estate agency clothing drives and pork chop sales; Chamber of
Commerce meetings; Veteran's Day banquets and dinners;
dinners for local police and firemen; children's
Christmas programs; Easter egg hunts; Halloween parties and
dances; picnics; Act of Faith's Charity Cat Show; and a
fundraising event for Premier Academy of the Performing Arts
other parcel is a 2.75-acre tract with a storage shed/garage.
Aerie 3207 uses the shed to store its business records and
personal property such as lawn-maintenance equipment.
3207 generates most of its income through its restaurant,
gaming, membership dues, and fundraisers and uses that income
to pay operating expenses. Aerie 3207 gives funds not used
for operations to charity. Aerie 3207 also collects donations
for specific charitable causes, some of which are passed
through to benefit the charitable endeavors of the society.
of the local pay annual membership dues of up to $30 per
year. Aerie 3207's bylaws provide for a funeral benefit
ranging from $150 (if a member dies in his first year of
membership) to $300 (if he dies in the tenth year of
membership or after). To qualify for the funeral benefit, the
member must have been initiated into Aerie 3207 before his
55th birthday and be current with membership dues
at the time of death. Aerie 3207 pays funeral benefits out of
its benefit fund; no funds come from the society.
3207 filed Applications for Property Tax Exemption with the
Hendricks County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals
(PTABOA) requesting either a fraternal benefit association
exemption or a charitable purposes exemption for the 2013 and
2014 tax years on its real and personal property. The PTABOA
denied those exemption applications on August 29, 2013, and
July 7, 2014, respectively.
3207 then timely appealed to the Indiana Board. On November
17, 2015, the Indiana Board held a hearing during which Aerie
3207 presented evidence including, but not limited to, its
relationship to the society and the Grand Aerie, mission, and
ownership, occupancy and use of the parcels. On June 20,
2016, the Indiana Board issued a final determination in which
it held that Aerie 3207 was not entitled to either the
fraternal benefit association exemption or the charitable
August 4, 2016, Aerie 3207 filed this original tax appeal.
The court heard oral argument on June 7, 2017.
court gives great deference to final determinations of the
Indiana Board when it acts within the scope of its authority.
The court will reverse a final determination of the Indiana
Board only if it is:
(1) arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or
otherwise not in accordance with law;
(2) contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege, or
(3) in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or
limitations, or short of statutory jurisdiction, authority,
(4) without observance of procedure required by law; or
(5) unsupported by substantial or reliable evidence.
Ind. Code §§ 33-26-6-6(e)(1)-(5) (2014).
See, Fraternal Order of Eagles # 3988, Inc. v.
Morgan Cnty. Property Tax Assessment Bd. of Appeals, 5
N.E.3d 1195, 1198 (Tax Ct. 2014). Aerie 3207 contends that
the Board's conclusions that Aerie 3207 neither
established itself as a fraternal benefit association under
Indiana Code § 27-11-1-1 nor that it met the charitable