• Odd Tax Exemption Case Decided
  • May 4, 2012 | Authors: Laura Bellotti Cardillo; Tiffany Kouri Spinella
  • Law Firm: Pullman & Comley, LLC - Hartford Office
  • The Good Foundation, Inc. was the unsuccessful applicant for an ad valorem tax exemption for its real and personal property in the town of Windham. Organized "to conduct scientific research in the physical sciences . . . and [to] share the results of that research with the general public without cost, primarily by donating its findings to publications made available for the general public," nevertheless, the foundation was not a typical tax-exempt entity.

    Dr. Phillip J. Mann is its president and research director. He pays the Foundation's expenses from his personal funds. The quirkiness of the entity is documented by the fact that, as the Superior Court noted, the foundation "does not generate any income, does not maintain any bank accounts and has not filed any tax returns." Indeed, the town of Windham's primary reason for denying its exemption request was that the foundation was "a one-man operation and has no income to devote to charity."

    To complicate the court's analysis, the real estate at 85 Bridge Street for which the exemption was sought was somewhat run down and significantly occupied by empty boxes which Dr. Mann "explained (were used) to take up air space in order to provide insulation and temperature control of the premises which is heated with ceramic stoves." This issue turned out not to be a problem for the foundation because "it is not the condition of the premises," the court observed, "but the use to which it is put that is important." And the fact that Dr. Mann's research was conducted on an ad hoc basis somewhat keyed to his personal interests and availability did not seem to trouble the court either.

    Concluding that research was indeed conducted within the property and that it seemed to meet all statutory requirements, the assessor was unable to rebut Dr. Mann's evidence. The court concluded that 85 Bridge Street was being used "exclusively as a laboratory for . . . experiment and research" and was entitled to the exemption.

    The Good Foundation, Inc. v. Town of Windham, Docket No. CV 080 4008026 (October 4, 2011).