Bishop of Nueva Segovia vs. Provincial Board, 51 Phil. 352 (1927) G.R. No. L-27588, December 31, 1927

Fact: The plaintiff, the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, represented by the Bishop of Nueva Segovia, possesses and is the owner of a parcel of land in the municipality of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, all four sides of which face on public streets. On the south side is a part of the churchyard, the convent and an adjacent lot used for a vegetable garden, containing an area off 1,624 square meters, in which there is a stable and a well for the use of the convent. In the center is the remainder of the churchyard and the church. On the north is an old cemetery with two of its walls still standing, and a portion where formerly stood a tower, the base of which still be seen, containing a total area of 8,955 square meters. As required by the defendants, on July 3, 1925 the plaintiff paid, under protest, the land tax on the lot adjoining the convent and the lot which formerly was the cemetery with the portion where the tower stood.

The plaintiff filed this action for the recovery of the sum paid by to the defendants by way of land tax, alleging that the collection of this tax is illegal. The lower court absolved the defendants from the complaint in regard to the lot adjoining convent and declared that the tax collected on the lot, which formerly was the cemetery and on the portion where the lower stood, was illegal. Both parties appealed from this judgment.

Issue: Whether a lot which constitutes an incidental use in religious functions is exempted from taxation?

Held: Yes, exemption in favor of the convent in the payment of the land tax refers to the home of the parties who presides over the church and who has to take care of himself in order to discharge his duties. In therefore must, in the sense, include not only the land actually occupied by the church, but also the adjacent ground destined to the ordinary incidental uses of man. Except in large cities where the density of the population and the development of commerce require the use of larger tracts of land for buildings, a vegetable garden belongs to a house and, in the case of a convent, it use is limited to the necessities of the priest, which comes under the exemption.

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