VALPARAISO | The Indiana Board of Tax Review upheld a local decision denying tax exemptions to the United Steelworkers Local 6787 for its union hall and banquet/meeting hall in Portage.
The board said the union failed to show the facilities qualify for the exemptions by being used predominately for charitable and educational efforts.
"The board is compelled to find that the general activities of a trade union that are for the purpose of promoting its members' interests cannot be considered as conveying public benefits if they are merely incidental to the private interests of the members," according to the ruling.
"A great deal of time and resources were exhausted in order to insure that Porter County was following the law in denying a property tax exemption for the United States Steelworkers," Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder said. "The IBTR confirmed that the county is indeed lawful in denying the exempt application. I am hopeful that we can both move on and continue good service to the citizens of Porter County."
The union local did not respond to a request Wednesday for comment.
The union local first applied for a 100 percent exemption of the 12,000-square-foot union hall and a 76 percent exemption on the 22,000-square-foot banquet/meeting center in May 2008, according to the state's decision.
The Porter County Tax Assessment Board of Appeals determined in June 2009 that both buildings were 100 percent taxable and union appealed to the state.
The union local applied for a 100 percent exemption on the union hall and a 71 percent exemption for the banquet/meeting center in May 2010. The PTABOA again determined in August 2011 that both buildings are 100 percent taxable and the union filed a second appeal.
The decision comes just two weeks after the state tax review board determined the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce was not due tax exempt status on its building at 2642 Eleanor St.
The chamber failed to show that more than half of the building and/or its operations are dedicated to charitable purposes, according to the tax board. As a result, the board let stand an earlier denial by the PTABOA.
The outcome of the appeal could have an impact on the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, which has a tax exemption on its building at 162 West Lincolnway.
Snyder intends to ask the PTABOA Jan. 29 to evaluate the Valparaiso exemption.