Certain types of non-profit organizations that own real and personal property in Wisconsin may qualify for exemption from Wisconsin property taxes. Such organizations include, among others, educational institutions, churches, benevolent associations, fraternal societies, and arts organizations. Wisconsin law requires an owner of property seeking an exemption for 2010 to file with the assessor of the taxation district where the property is located, on or before March 1, 2010, an application form and numerous supporting documents. Exempt status of property for 2010 is based on the ownership and use of the property as of January 1, 2010.
The application requirement applies only to new exemption applications. If an organization has previously obtained a property tax exemption for a specific property, it is not required to complete a new application for that property if the exempt use of the property has not changed. If, however, an organization acquired property in 2009 that was taxable or did not exist in 2009, it must file an exemption application for 2010. If an organization acquired property in 2009 that was exempt for 2009 under the prior owner, or if an organization’s use of its own property that was exempt for 2009 changed during 2009 from one exempt use to another, the organization may be required to file an exemption application for 2010.
Some limitations apply. The property must be used exclusively for exempt purposes on January 1 of the year for which exemption is sought, although in some cases property that is under construction on January 1 may qualify for at least partial exemption. If the property is used partly for exempt purposes and partly for non-exempt purposes, it may be exempt in part and taxable in part. In general, vacant and unoccupied land does not qualify for exemption. Also, the number of acres subject to the exemption is limited.