A Royal Canadian Legion in Lachine is fighting a $40,000 municipal tax bill it was served after losing its non-profit status.

“If we have to pay these taxes, this Legion might not exist,” said President Denise Lapierre.

 The Legion has been open since the 1970s and is home to multiple veterans and community groups. In the past, it was granted a tax exemption as a non-profit organization but that status was revoked this year.

While the Legion has paid $6,000 in taxes thus far, it still owes another $37,000 in city and school taxes.

It’s not the first Legion to face such a bill. Other posts in Ste. Anne de Bellevue and Lasalle have also lost their tax-exemption statuses recently.

Montreal Executive Committee chair Pierre Desrochers said it’s not up to the city to decide who is exempt and who isn’t.

“The city doesn’t have the authority to do that,” he said. “The city has to apply respect to the fiscal tax law and that’s what we do. If any organization wants to be exempt, they have to apply.”

But Legion member William McCullough said the City of Montreal opposed renewing the Lachine chapter’s tax exempt status at a hearing of the municipal tax commission.

“Instead of Mr. Coderre coming after us for the money, let us survive and help the community as we do and do it well,” he said.

Lachine Borough Mayor Claude Dauphin said he will support the Legion if they appeal the change.

“As soon as we get the date, we will all go but I will testify in their favour to make sure we will keep our Legion,” he said. “I’m sure they will win.”

Should the appeal fail, the Legion will be unable to appeal again for five years, a time period in which their tax bills could spell the end of the organization.

“If we pay the taxes, we can’t keep this going,” said Lapierre. “It would be a real shame to lose it.”