Televangelist Kenneth Copeland is able to use a loophole in Texas state law to legally avoid paying property taxes on his $ 7 million, 18,000 square foot mansion near Forth Worth, a. -on revealed Wednesday.
This despite the fact that Copeland is said to be the richest pastor in the United States, with an estimated value of $ 750 million.
A exclusive inquiry from Houston Chronicle explained how Copeland can avoid $ 150,000 in annual property taxes. The loophole is to register his Tarrant County-based mansion as a pastor’s home.
Under Texas law, pastors’ homes, known as parsonages, are eligible for full exemption from state property taxes. Despite this, officials have said that while what Copeland does may be legal, the law probably wasn’t written with his type of extreme wealth in mind.
“It definitely looks out of place and unusual compared to the other parsonages we have,” said Jeff Law, the chief assessor for Tarrant County. the Chronicle. “But from what I can gather from the law, and my understanding, this is a parsonage just like the little house next to the church would.”
However, the Texas Rectory Act only allows tax-exempt churches to be located on a single acre of land. Copeland got around this restriction, however, by purchasing only one acre to build the mansion, and then purchasing an additional 24 acres of land surrounding the property.
Copeland reportedly built the six-bedroom mansion in 1999 for his wife Gloria because, he said, God told him to do it. It was valued at over $ 10 million in 2020, but was reduced to $ 7 million in 2021 after protests from Copeland Church, the the Chronicle reported.
Copeland, the founder of the Eagle Mountain International Church mega-church, is considered one of the country’s most prominent and famous televangelists, with his website listing six ministry offices around the world. Beyond his Tarrant County mansion, Copeland also used his significant wealth to purchase several private jets.
He is also said to own a number of other properties beyond the mansion.
Because of his wealth, Copeland has drawn criticism for his use of state law to avoid paying property taxes.
“The law was never intended to give respites to millionaires and multimillionaires,” said Pete Evans, director of the Trinity Foundation, a watchdog group researching televangelists. The Chronicle. “You are making fun of the law itself. “
In response to the investigation, the Eagle Mountain International Church told the the Chronicle that it “always conforms to Biblical guidelines. Our church also adheres to various federal, state, county and local codes, statutes and ordinances applicable to the ministry of the church.”
This isn’t the first time Copeland has been mired in controversy. Throughout 2020, he was criticized for misinformation in his sermons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and his anti-vaccine sentiments are believed to have contributed to a 2013 measles outbreak in Tarrant County.
News week has contacted Departments Kenneth Copeland for comment.