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Christian School Sues After Milwaukee Charges $106K in Property Taxes: 'Clearly Unlawful'

YouTube Screenshot/Wisconsin Lutheran High School
YouTube Screenshot/Wisconsin Lutheran High School

A Christian high school is suing the city of Milwaukee after being forced to pay more than $100,000 in property taxes for one of its buildings that it says should have been exempt.

Attorneys with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of Wisconsin Lutheran High School. Counsel is requesting that the school be reimbursed nearly $106,000, which was paid in 2021.

Wisconsin Lutheran is seeking an exemption for the Honey Creek Hall building because it's used for educational and religious purposes such as studying, tutoring, Bible study, and worship.

The City of Milwaukee previously assessed the property and didn't believe that the property met the legal standard for tax exemption.

However, the school argues that full services of the building make its purpose "educational" and therefore eligible for exemption. 

"State law provides a property tax exemption for educational and religious institutions like Wisconsin Lutheran. The City of Milwaukee's attempt to assess the school for more than $100,000 for this property is clearly unlawful," said WILL Deputy Counsel Lucas Vebber.

Wisconsin Lutheran President, Rev. Dr. Kenneth Fisher said the school would rather spend the funds on expanding the campus and not on "improper tax."

"This is an important issue for our school. We have a huge gap between what we receive in vouchers and our actual costs to educate our teens," explained Fisher. "We would much rather spend the $105,000 educating our students than paying for an improper tax. We are praying that our money can be restored to us so we can use it to further the ministry of our school."

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the $9 million building was built in 2019 with the purpose of recruiting more international students.

Wisconsin Lutheran filed a property tax exemption with the City in February 2021 but that was denied in October. Then the school paid the property tax bill and filed a refund claim, yet, that was also denied. 

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