According to an investigative report by the Houston Chronicle, televangelist Kenneth Copeland has avoided paying $150,000 in annual taxes on his $7 million Texas mansion because of a loophole in the state's tax code.
Copeland's 18,000-square-foot home, which he built in 1999, is considered a parsonage for his church, Eagle Mountain International, in Tarrant County, meaning that the property is exempt from taxation under Texas Tax Code Sec. 11.20.
According to the code, "real property that is owned by the religious organization and is reasonably necessary for use as a residence" and is "used exclusively as a residence for those individuals whose principal occupation is to serve in the clergy of the religious organization" provided that the parsonage does not provide revenue for the religious organization is tax-exempt.
Jeff Law, Tarrant County's chief appraiser, told the Chronicle that while the law considers Copeland's mansion a parsonage "just like the little house next to the church," it "definitely looks out of place and unusual compared to other parsonages we have."
Under state law, Texas parsonages qualify for a tax exemption so long as it only sits on one acre of land. While Copeland's house fulfills that requirement, he also owns 24 more acres of lakefront property, for which he only pays $3,000 in annual property taxes.
Copeland is considered America's wealthiest pastor as he has a reported net worth of $750 million, Ministry Watch reports. In a 2015 sermon, he said that God told him to build the six-bedroom home in 1999 for his wife, Gloria. Copeland noted that God told him it was "part of your prosperity."
As Christian Headlines previously reported, in a 2019 interview with Inside Edition, Copeland addressed his wealth as he told reporter Lisa Guerrero that some of the money comes from natural gas reserves on his property.
He also contended that his wealth has allowed his ministry to bring "over 122 million people to the Lord Jesus Christ."
In a later interview, Copeland defended owning three private jets to help him travel for his ministry.
"If I flew commercial, I'd have to stop 65 percent of what I'm doing," he said.
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.