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July 30, 2013

Arts Groups in Maine Town Fight Loss of Charity Tax Breaks

Two cultural organizations in Kittery, Maine, are headed to court to challenge town officials' revocation of their property-tax exemptions, reports Seacoast Online.

The Dance Hall is taking its case to York County Superior Court after losing an appeal with Kittery's Board of Assessment Review. The Kittery Art Association bypassed the board and is going straight to court.

Both groups are federally designated 501(c)(3) nonprofits, but under Maine law property-tax breaks are determined by whether an organization is deemed "charitable and benevolent" or "scientific and literary" in nature.

“This is not an attack on arts associations,” attorney Duncan McEachern, representing town assessor Bruce Kerns, said at a hearing of the assessment board last week. "There’s no question they benefit the community. ... The question is, are their activities charitable in nature?"