HOLY CRAP!….. LITERALLY!
Lori Parrish, pastor settle church property tax dispute
Broward property appraiser grants tax-exemption status for waterfront estate
By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org
6:08 p.m. EST, February 27, 2010
Tough-talking Broward Property Appraiser Lori Parrish called it a "tax dodge" four years ago when Pastor Frederick "Sonny" Irons asked her to grant his $1.9 million Fort Lauderdale waterfront estate tax-exemption as a church called "The Seafarer's Church of the Creator."
"Everyone knows what a real church is, and this isn't it," Parrish told the Sun Sentinel after she rejected Irons' request.
But Parrish has changed her mind. In December, without announcement, Parrish settled a three-year-old lawsuit with Irons by agreeing to grant his application for tax-exempt status for 2006, but not for 2005. The deal meant Broward's tax collector couldn't collect about $33,000 in property taxes assessed for 2006. More importantly, Parrish has given her blessing to a perpetual property tax exemption for the two-story brick home at 1309 SW Fifth Court where Irons and his wife, Judy, reside. That means the valuable parcel astride the north fork of the New River is legally a church and parsonage, and the city and county can no longer collect taxes on it. Irons, once a political ally of former Mayor Jim Naugle, told Broward Bulldog he holds services at his residence for his 92-member congregation. Ron Gunzburger, the property appraiser's general counsel, says Parrish became a believer a couple of years ago after Irons cleaned up the church's not-for-profit corporate structure to ensure that a future sale of the property would not benefit him or his family. Public records show that Sonny and Judy Irons paid $200,000 for the property in 1983. Over the years, they built the home where they now live, finishing it in 2004. In May 2004, Irons incorporated his Seafarer's Church in Nevada and made himself the sole corporate officer. In December that year, the couple sold the 4,870-square-foot house to the church for $100 and Irons filed a Vow of Poverty with the county. According to court papers filed by Parrish in June 2008, Irons took those steps not long after attending a seminar "on the topic of methods for evading taxes" put on by tax protestor Eddie Ray Kahn. Kahn gained national notoriety in 2006 when he was indicted along with actor Wesley Snipes in a tax fraud case in Ocala.
Broward Bulldog is a not-for-profit, online-only newspaper created to provide local reporting in the public interest.