County defies state's ruling, taxes church $50,000: Congregation now faces lien, foreclosure over outstanding bill

Posted: March 21, 20119:30 pm Eastern By Drew Zahn © 2011 WorldNetDaily

A small church in La Paz County, Ariz., is facing threat of foreclosure over a more than $50,000 tax bill the state has already said it doesn't have to pay, but the county is demanding anyway.

"That would almost be a year's income for this church," says Mike Hobby, pastor of Church of the Isaiah 58 Project of Arizona. "We operate on just about that in a year."

Despite the small budget, however, the church is large on helping the poor, growing out of a ministry that focuses on providing showers, clothing, job counseling and free meals to the needy in and around Quartzsite, Ariz. Since 2008, court documents report, the church has provided over 38,000 free meals in the community, winning the support and praise of town officials.

"Mike's taxes are that he supports all these down-trodden people who come through this flock, and that's what he contributes," says Ed Foster, mayor of Quartzsite. "He shouldn't be contributing tax dollars to the county."

The state of Arizona agrees, certifying in a letter to Hobby that his church is exempt from both income and property taxes and has been for years.

But La Paz County nonetheless insists the church owes $52,665.27 in back taxes. Furthermore, it placed a lien on the church's property, sold the lien to a private investor, and now the investor is threatening foreclosure on March 31 if the church doesn't pay.

Read more: County defies state's order, taxes church $50,000