(CITE AS: 150 ME. 350, 110 A.2D 581)
GREEN ACRE BAHA'I INSTITUTE
v. Town of ELIOT.
Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.
Dec. 23, 1954.
Appeal from refusal of town to abate taxes assessed
against a corporation organized by members of a religious faith to conduct
educational facilities for the exposition of spiritual truths and religious
precepts. The Superior Court, York County, entered a decree ordering
the taxes abated in full, and the town brought exceptions. The Supreme
Judicial Court, Webber, J., held that the evidence supported findings of
fact of trial justice and that he did not err as a matter of law in adjudging
exempt from taxation property owned by corporation and used in good faith
during summer seasons for the benevolent and charitable purposes for which
corporation was organized.
Francis F. Neal, Kittery, Thomas E. Flynn,
Jr., John R. DeCourcy, Portsmouth, N. H., for plaintiff.
Varney & Levy, Portsmouth, N. H., Richard
E. Poulos, Portland, for defendant.
Before WILLIAMSON, TIRRELL, BELIVEAU, TAPLEY,
THAXTER, WEBBER, JJ.
This was an appeal from the refusal of the
Selectmen of the Town of Eliot to abate taxes assessed against the Green
Acre Bahá'í Institute for the year 1952. The matter was heard by
a single justice below, who entered a decree embracing findings of fact
and rulings of law and which ordered the taxes abated in full. Exceptions
thereto are before us. The petitioner deems itself exempted from
taxation as a benevolent and charitable institution under the provisions
of R.S.1944, Chapter 81, s 6, as amended, the pertinent portions of which
read as follows:
'Sec. 6. Exemptions. The following
property and polls are exempt from taxation: * * * III. * *
* the real and personal property of all benevolent and charitable institutions
incorporated by the state; * * * but so much of the real estate of such
corporations as is not occupied by them for their own purposes shall be
taxed in the municipality in which it is situated. Provided, however,
that nothing in this subsection shall be construed to entitle any institution,
association, or corporation otherwise qualified for exemption as a benevolent
or charitable institution to any exemption from taxation if any officer,
member, or employee thereof shall receive or may be legally entitled to
receive any pecuniary profit from the operation thereof, except reasonable
compensation for services in effecting one or more of such purposes, or
as proper beneficiaries of its strictly benevolent or charitable purposes,
or if the organization thereof for any such avowed purposes be a pretense
for directly or indirectly making any other pecuniary profit for such institution,
corporation, or association, or for any of its members or employees, or
if it be not organized and conducted exclusively for benevolent and charitable
purposes. * * * and provided, however, that the provisions of this
subsection shall not apply to a summer camp or other seasonal resort which
derives a profit on its actual operating and administrative expenses incurred
thereat or within this state, nor to that part of its property from which
it receives compensation in the form of rent. Such camp or resort
shall keep full financial records which shall at all times be open and
available to inspection by the tax assessors of the town or city where
it is located.'
Petitioner is a corporation organized under
the laws of Maine by members of the Bahá'í faith to 'conduct educational
facilities, including classes, public lectures and research, for the exposition
of spiritual truths, principles and religious precepts based upon the extant
and available sacred literature of all revealed faiths, with particular
reference to the Bahá'í teachings on progressive revelation, religion,
unity, and the oneness of mankind; to build and maintain and operate such
buildings, museums, dormitories, libraries and facilities as may be necessary
to carry out the educational, religious, charitable and benevolent purposes
of the corporation;' and further, 'In the conduct of its educational program
and the operation of its properties for the aforesaid purposes, (to) conform
to the administrative principles and spiritual authority duly established
in the Bahá'í teachings as upheld by the elective national
Bahá'í body known as the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís
of the United States.'
 Petitioner owns and operates in respondent
town certain real estate comprising a number of acres of land and certain
buildings suitable for classes, lectures, concerts and the like, with facilities
for lodging and board. The activities are confined to the summer
season. Persons in attendance include members of the Bahá'í faith,
non-members who express a sincere interest in the faith, and citizens of
the local community. There are facilities for recreation. Persons
who require board and lodging pay for those services, but are required
to participate in the classes and lectures. As the Bahá'í faith has
no official clergy, all members are expected to serve in a missionary role
and expand the faith. In short, the purposes of the Institute embrace
the essential elements of missionary societies which have long been deemed
to possess the required attributes of benevolent and charitable institutions
for tax exemption purposes. Ferry Beach Park Ass'n of Universalist
Church v. City of Saco
, 136 Me. 202, 7 A.2d 428; Ferry Beach Park
Association of Universalists v. City of Saco
, 127 Me. 136, 142 A. 65;
Maine Baptist Missionary Convention v. City of Portland
, 65 Me.
 In such a tax exemption case as this,
many of the issues for determination are questions of fact. The findings
of fact of a single justice are final and binding if supported by any credible
evidence. O'Connor v. Wassookeag Preparatory School, Inc
142 Me. 86, 46 A.2d 861; Sanfacon v. Gagnon
, 132 Me. 111, 167 A.
 The justice below found on the basis
of supporting evidence that the institution was operating the property
for the benevolent and charitable purposes for which it was organized,
that the program was conducted in good faith and not with any purpose or
intention of tax evasion, that the dominant purpose of the operation was
the furtherance of its religious and missionary aims and that any charges
for board or lodging were purely incidental to the dominant purpose, and
that neither the institution nor any individual deriving any profit from
the operation other than reasonable compensation for services performed.
 Certain rules governing
situations of this sort are well established. Taxation is the rule
and exemption the exception. Ferry Beach Park Association of Universalists
v. City of Saco
, supra. Exemption is not defeated by the fact
that the use by the charitable institution for is own purposes is seasonal.
Ferry Beach Park Ass'n of Universalist Church v. City of Saco
Ferry Beach Park Association of Universalists v. City of Saco
Camp Emoh Associates v. Inhabitants of Lyman
, 132 Me. 67, 166 A.
59. Property of charitable institutions which is let or rented primarily
for revenue is taxable, but where the dominant use by such institution
is for its own purposes, tax exemption will not be defeated by either occasional
or purely incidental letting or renting. Curtis v. Androscoggin
Lodge, No. 24, Independent Order of Odd Fellows
, 99 Me. 356, 59
A. 518; City of Lewiston v. All Maine Fair Association
, 138 Me.
39, 21 A.2d 625. We do not think the amendments incorporated in the
exemption statute (supra) as it now stands were intended to change or alter
these well defined rules of exemption. In each situation where exemption
is claimed, there must be a careful examination to determine whether in
fact the institution is organized and conducting its operation for purely
benevolent and charitable purposes in good faith, whether there is any
profit motive revealed or concealed, whether there is any pretense to avoid
taxation, and whether any production of revenue is purely incidental to
a dominant purpose which is benevolent and charitable. When these
questions are answered favorably to the petitioner for exemption, the property
may not be taxed.
 Among the properties of the petitioner
were two undeveloped woodland areas. There was evidence that those
participating in the program regularly used these areas for walks, prayer,
meditation, outdoor meetings and recreation. There was further evidence
that certain locations therein had special significance for members of
the faith arising out of a former visitation to the area by a leader of
the faith. There was also evidence of a hopeful, though not a clearly
planned or definite intention, that the area might in the future be used
for the enlargement and development of the institution's facilities.
There was no suggestion of any present intention or purpose to hold the
property as commercial timberland or for any other revenue use. Upon
this evidence, the justice below found that the institution was devoting
the entire tract to its benevolent and charitable uses. Under such
circumstances, such an area may be shown to be exempt. Osteopathic
Hospital of Maine v. City of Portland
, 139 Me. 24, 26 A.2d 641; Wheaton
College v. Inhabitants of Norton
, 232 Mass. 141, 122 N.E. 280.
 Upon this record, we cannot say that
any finding of the justice below was legally erroneous or that he erred
as a matter of law in determining that all of the property of the petitioner
was exempt from taxation. The entry will be,
FELLOWS, C. J., did not sit.