Monday, August 29, 2011

Allen Prevo Divorce Revives Questions About Anchorage Baptist Temple's Housing Tax Exemptions

Mel Green's long piece at Bent on the divorce proceedings between Jerry Prevo's son and daughter-in-law focuses on the status of the house they live in.  It's one of the tax-exempt properties owned by the Anchorage Baptist Temple.  From what Green has found in the court proceedings, it appears that Allen Prevo gets paid a housing allowance which goes to pay for a rent-to-own arrangement.  Is the property tax-exempt house the church's or Allen Prevo's?  This is all coming out because the judge is trying to determine how the value of the house is to be factored into the divorce settlement.  Allen Prevo's attorney, Wayne Anthony Ross, has filed a motion to seal the court documents.

The post begins:

Court documents in the divorce of Allen Prevo, son of Anchorage Baptist Temple pastor Jerry Prevo, and Holly Jo Prevo raise questions about ABT religious exemption housing. Or, in the judge’s words, “if there was a tax appraiser or a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News, things would not look good… it’s pretty loosey-goosey to me.”

Alaskans, particularly those who live in Anchorage, have an interest in this because, as Green writes further down in the post:
Anchorage news junkies may remember that in April 2004, In April 2004, municipal tax assessors revoked the exemption for four ABT-owned houses that were determined to not qualify for a religious exemption because none of the people living in them was “a bishop, pastor, priest, rabbi, minister or religious order of a recognized religious organization” as specified in state law about property tax exemptions.  Three were teachers at the ABT-affliated Anchorage Christian Schools. The fourth was a janitor.  Then, a couple of years later, the Municipality discovered that an additional six ABT-owned houses were occupied by teachers.
Anxious to retain its tax exemption on those houses, ABT enlisted the help of assistant pastor Glenn Clary, who also happened to be the treasurer of the Alaska Republican Party, to go down to Juneau and lobby legislators to fix things.  The Republican-dominated legislature was quick to respond: in March 2006, Senate President Ben Stevens drafted language which added “an educator in a private religious or parochial school” to the list of people whose residence in a house made the house exempt from property taxes.  Furthermore, the new language defined a “minister” to be someone who is considered one and is “employed to carry out a ministry” of a religious organization.  Stevens then asked Sen. Bert Stedman, chairman of the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee, to introduce the new language into a redraft of an obscure property tax bill that Sen. Con Bunde had introduce the previous year.  Public testimony on the bill a few days later was aligned squarely against the bill, but legislators advance it anyway, and it ultimately passed and was signed into law by Gov. Frank Murkowski.  The ACLU of Alaska sued, but ultimately a Superior Court judge found the new law constitutional.
The long post reflects Green's usual careful and detailed analysis and is well worth people's time.


  1. I have never understood why churches are exempt from paying taxes. Seems clearly wrong to me. Think how much more money could be collected every year if all those expensive buildings and properties paid their fair share. Why, maybe we could balance the budget on that increase alone. I actually have no idea how much it would be, but think it would a huge amount, given the grandeur of so many of their building and the land holdings is very high priced real estate locations.

    I particularly think that when a church chooses to get involved in politics and telling their members how to vote, their free ride should be revolked. This Prevo guy is the creepiest of an ever growing group (starting at the top with the whole Graham family).

    It is obvious that you have some very corrupt people running the state of Alaska...including the Superior Court judge who ruled on this case. I am not pointing this is the case everywhere..but seems to coming to light there because of spotlights put on the seemingly never ending list of lies and corruption of the Palins and those who support them.

  2. I also agree that something is amiss with ABT. How is it that residents of ABT houses can say that they "bought their house" when they moved in, but the house does not show up on the tax roll as their personal property? My suspicion is that ABT has not only found a way to avoid property taxes, but has found a way to pass that perk onto the residents of it's exempt property. As a tax payer, I resent the fact that my neighbor benefits from as many city services as I, but I pay for them and he doesn't.


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