Merou Grotto could go up for tax sale

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – The Merou Grotto could soon be up for auction, after members failed to file for property tax exemption in both 2010 and 2012.

“I would really hate to see this type of place taken away,” said Benjamin Wilkes, a Brother Prophet of the Merou Grotto.

County Assessor Linda Phillips said because the organization failed to file, the county pulled the tax exemptions, making the Grotto eligible for a tax sale.

“Organizations that fail to file have to pay property taxes,” said Phillips. “You know, the general presumption is that every property in Indiana is subject to tax.”

The Grotto filed an appeal, which put the tax sale on hold.

Wilkes said exemptions weren’t filed in that time period, due to miscommunication. He said because of that, the organization lost its non-profit status.

“During the four years that we lost that status, we were assessed retroactive back taxes of roughly around $45,000,” said Wilkes.

Wilkes said members were notified about the payment last September. They are in the process of appealing. Members said they still must pay $40,000 by May 15.

“Being a charitable organization, we don’t have $40,000 dollars just lying around to be able to pay,” said Wilkes. “If we don’t pay the $40,000 in May, then the Grotto itself will go into a tax sale.”

Phillips said while she’d hate to see the Grotto go to auction, she has to be fair to all taxpayers and follow the law.

“I don’t have anything against them, it’s just I try to treat every tax payer the same and it is incumbent on the tax payer to follow the law,” said Phillips.

Phillips said the Grotto will have a chance to go before the board of appeals sometime in June.


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