APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EARL
ARKISS, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE STAMOS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Plaintiff, Oasis, Midwest Center for Human Potential (hereinafter "Oasis"), brought an action seeking to enjoin collection of real estate taxes for 1973, 1974 and 1975 against certain real property located at 7463 North Sheridan Road in Chicago, Illinois. Those joined as parties defendant include the successors in office of Cook County Collector and Cook County Assessor as well as National Indemnity Corp. and Virginia Steding, holders of tax sale certificates on the subject property for the years 1973 and 1974. On the authority of Illinois Institute of Technology v. Skinner (1971), 49 Ill.2d 59, 273 N.E.2d 371, the trial court sustained defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings with respect to the 1973 taxes. Upon hearing evidence, the trial court denied plaintiff's complaint for an injunction regarding the 1974 and 1975 taxes.
The issues presented for review are as follows: (1) whether plaintiff's use of the subject premises constitutes "school purposes" within the meaning of the Illinois Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 120, par. 500.1) so as to entitle plaintiff to a real estate tax exemption; (2) whether, alternatively, plaintiff's use of the subject premises constitutes "charitable or beneficent purposes" within the meaning of the Illinois Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 120, par. 500.7) so as to entitle plaintiff to a real estate tax exemption; and (3) whether the trial court properly ruled that plaintiff's failure to obtain an exemption for 1973 taxes from the Department of Local Government Affairs pursuant to section 119 of the Illinois Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 120, par. 600) or appeal therefrom precludes relitigation of the issue in a court of equity.
Oasis was organized as a "growth center." It was incorporated in 1968 on a not-for-profit basis. Its corporate charter provides that its purposes are "[t]o discover and disseminate those truths in religion and philosophy and the behavioral sciences which promote actualization of human potential and growth." Oasis was initially funded by a two-year "seed grant" from the Stone-Brandell Foundation.
In 1972, the property in question was purchased from the Henry Crown family. It is described as a residential, three-story frame dwelling. On the first floor are three rooms used for seminars as well as a kitchen and breakfast room; on the second floor are three additional seminar rooms and two baths; the third floor is occupied by a custodian as living quarters. Space in an attached two-car garage is rented to the public on a monthly basis.
Oasis conducts approximately 150 programs per year. Its brochures characterize Oasis activities as follows:
"Using an environment enhancing trust and openness, Oasis workshops provide opportunities to heighten self-awareness, increase understanding of the ways others see us, and develop more effective ways of dealing with each other. These opportunities generally are provided through the demonstration and practice of carefully designed group experiences. Programs are oriented toward the average person who wants to get more out of life, increase his or her professional skills, become a better spouse or parent, or find ways to a new and better life style.
Many people who have attended Oasis have expressed a strong interest in becoming more involved and keeping in touch with what is happening at Oasis. Similarly, we at Oasis have increasingly felt the need to involve more people in our expanding community. We want and need your energy, participation and support. We have developed our membership program as a means of bringing us together. This is your invitation to join.
A member's discount on all Oasis workshops. (Does not include single-evening events.)
Six special events each year for members only. (Special parties, weekend workshops designated for members only, one day free group experiences.)
Use of Oasis Farm for fun and play on specific weekends.
Once-a-month Members Evening at Oasis House. (Wine-and-cheese parties, folk music, dancing, poetry evenings, or other social events, ...