“They may think the house is too big. I do not mind. The message came from heaven. Glory to God, hallelujah! ”Said Kenneth Copeland, America’s richest televangelist, of the $ 7 million mansion he built in Texas.
In 2015, Copeland told his faithful that it was God who asked him to build the house of his dreams, one designed by his wife Gloria. “Minister this house to her. For your prosperity, “he said.
What he didn’t mention is that his “heavenly” project was paid for in part by Texas taxpayers.
Under a little-known statute that county appraisers call too lenient, the property – of Copeland’s Eagle Mountain International Church – it is considered a parsonage, a clergy residence, which qualifies for a 100 percent tax exemption.
The house that Gloria Copelan “dreamed of” has three floors, six bedrooms and six bathrooms; and is located near a gated community on the outskirts of Fort Worth. It has enough space for four basketball courts – more than 5,000 square meters of living space in total.
According to The Houston Chronicle, the Copeland church made a free pass on what would otherwise be an annual property tax bill in excess of $ 150,000, money that other local taxpayers must replenish to cover the cost of the schools. , the police and the fire brigade.
Jeff Law, the chief appraiser for Tarrant County, said Texas’ flexible statute offers very few options. “It definitely seems out of place, compared to other parsonies that we have,” he said.
“But from what I can gather through the law and my understanding, it qualifies as a parsonage just like the little house next to the church would.”
Copeland, which ties his fortune to gas fields he owns, has a net worth of $ 750 million and also owns a fleet of duty-free private jets, which are stored at an airport for personal use.