How Some Megachurch Pastors Are Legally Not Paying Property Taxes on Their Luxury Homes

Tax records show that the mansions of Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis are owned by their churches, which qualifies them to be tax-free under the Parsonage Exemption.

Some of America’s most well-known megachurch pastors live in glamorous multimillion-dollar mansions. But public records obtained by Inside Edition show that they do not pay property taxes, and critics are wondering why.

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland lives in a $6 million complex outside Dallas

“You may think that house is too big. I don’t care what you think,” Copeland told a congregation in 2015.

Another televangelist, Reverend Jesse Duplantis, lives in a $20 million home outside New Orleans. He has gloated about the valuable artwork inside his 40,000-square-foot house.

Critics, like Pete Evans of the televangelist watchdog group Trinity Foundation, say these preachers are using a legal way to avoid paying property taxes on their pricey homes.

“You and I are financing their rich lifestyles,”  Evans tells Inside Edition. “They’re just trying to grab as much money as they can. It’s pure greed.”

Tax records show that the mansions Copeland and Duplantis live in are owned by their churches, which qualifies them to be tax-free under the Parsonage Exemption.

“The Parsonage Tax Exemption is a way for a church or religious organization to buy a piece of residential property, have their pastor live in it, and then not pay property taxes on that parsonage, which is essential a way to make the pastor’s life a little bit easier and live a little bit cheaper,” associate pastor and political scientist Ryan Burge tells Inside Edition.

Burge says the exemption should be used to help average pastors like Jason Fishburn, who lives with his wife Hannah and their family in a more modest home where they host church events.

“Everything from hosting gatherings to letting people come and stay when they’re in crisis, making meals for people out of our kitchen,” Hannah Fishburn says of she and her husband's work done from their house.

“It’s the kind of job that really becomes more of a lifestyle in many ways,” Jason Fishburn says.

The Fishburns say what little money they save on their taxes is crucial to help make ends meet.

“Things would be much harder for us for sure without the exemption,” Jason says.

But it appears not all pastors benefiting from the exemption live modestly. One California home owned by Redemption Church, where pastor Ron Carpenter lives, has been listed for sale on Redfin for nearly $8 million.

“If you have a multimillion-dollar house, your property tax bill could be 30, 40, $50,000 a year, but if it’s classified as a parsonage, now you don’t have to pay property taxes on that home,” Burge says.

Pastors I.V. and Bridget Hilliard live in a vast complex in Spring, Texas owned by their church, New Light Church World.

“When I fly in my helicopter, over my campuses, I’m glad I did not quit. I’m glad I pressed my way. Amen, amen,” I.V. Hilliard has said.

Records show their complex is worth $8 million, but they paid no property taxes last year.

Televangelist Duplantis owns one of the biggest parsonages in the country. Records show neither Duplantis nor his church paid a single cent in taxes on his home.

Duplantis did not return calls or emails from Inside Edition requesting comment. When producers approached him in a church parking lot, he responded, “I don’t have time, I’m sorry.”

Copeland, Carpenter, and New Light Church World did not return Inside Edition's requests for comment.

“To me, those houses look more like a fortress than an open door and I don’t know how a person could justify that being an extension of the church,” Hannah Fishburn says.

Jason Fishburn, a pastor himself, feels that the megachurch parsonages aren't true to Christian values.

"It's discouraging me to see how far these guys have diverged from the teachings of Jesus," Jason Fishburn says.

It is estimated that there are at least 100 multimillion-dollar property tax-exempt parsonages nationwide.

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