Monday, April 24, 2006
Interesting New York Times article: Property Tax Dispute Threatens Band of Polygamists, by Kirk Johnson:
Thousands of polygamists are engaged in a highly unusual standoff here over property taxes that could ultimately cost them their houses or thrust them into a mainstream America they fear and despise.
In one corner is a group of 8,000 or so adherents of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an offshoot of the Mormon Church that had long paid the property taxes of its members, sometimes even rolling a wheelbarrow through meetings to collect the needed cash.
At the other corner is a stocky accountant from Salt Lake City, Bruce R. Wisan, who says he is determined to help the church members even if they do not want it.
The church hierarchy is in chaos. Its former leader is on the run, facing criminal charges of arranging sex between a minor and an adult in a polygamous marriage, leaving the old tax-collection system in shambles. Now the property taxes for hundreds of houses — around $1.3 million — are overdue and mounting. The church's remaining leaders have told people living in the houses not to pay. Mr. Wisan has promised to make them do so. A state judge appointed him last year to oversee the land on which most church members live. A trust the church established generations ago controls the land.
(Hat Tip: Ann Murphy.)