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7th district congressional candidate Phil Rizzo. (Photo: Phil Rizzo).

Rizzo’s Harding property loses tax-exempt status

NJ-7 candidate sold house to now-defunct church in 2017

By Joey Fox, May 05 2022 2:59 pm

The Morris County Board of Taxation has revoked tax-exempt status from the defunct City Baptist Church, which owns the house where 7th district congressional candidate Phil Rizzo keeps his residence, without the church or Rizzo contesting the decision, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Rizzo, a former pastor who ran as a conservative Republican in the 2021 gubernatorial race and is now seeking to take down Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), worked as a pastor at North Bergen’s City Baptist Church until he took a leave of absence last June. The church subsequently shut down, supposedly because of Hurricane Ida.

Back in 2017, Rizzo had sold his Harding County home to City Baptist Church for $1.65 million, thereby exempting the house from property taxes, but continued to live there.

Harding Township challenged the church’s tax exempt status in February, as Politico reported, arguing that a defunct house of worship shouldn’t be able to continue avoiding property taxes. In a meeting of the county board of taxation today, neither Rizzo nor anyone else involved in the church showed up to contest the claim, meaning that the house’s property taxes will now have to be paid.

The news represents yet another headache for Rizzo, who has struggled to gain traction in the 7th district Republican primary. The frontrunner to challenge Malinowski is former Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield), and neither Rizzo nor any of the other Republicans running have gotten the kind of money or attention they’d likely need to beat him.

In fact, Rizzo’s own highest-profile endorser, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), has had his own share of difficult headlines recently, including scandalous claims about his personal life as well as more routine reports of ethics violations.

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