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Healthcare, Property Tax Exemptions and Implications from Recent Court Cases
Unformatted Document Text:  3 Introduction Property tax exemptions are significant local government “subsidies” to nonprofit hospitals. According to one expert, the estimated value of the property tax exemption for hospitals in 1995 was $1.7 billion. 1 While serious threats to the property tax exemption for nonprofit organizations occur on a regular basis, the challenges during the second half of the twentieth century have been characterized as “an unremitting state of siege.” 2 Clotfelter contends that the “public debate over nonprofit tax policy reflects both this policy’s significance within the larger scope of American social policy and its financial importance to the well-being of the nonprofit sector.” 3 Why has the property tax exemption received so much attention in recent years? There are several possible answers to this question. According to Youngman, the “inherently unsettled nature of a number of its central concepts, including elements as basic as charity, public welfare, ownership, value, and even the definition of the tax itself” contribute to the controversy. 4 Other explanations for the attention to property tax exemptions most likely include growth in the number of nonprofits and the property used by them; the political climate relative to tax increases, particularly property taxes; and media attention given to all of these issues. 1 William Gentry and John Penrod, "The Tax Benefits of Not-for-Profit Hospitals," The Changing Hospital Industry: Comparing Not-for-Profit and for-Profit Institutions, ed. David M. Cutler (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2000) 286. 2 John G. Simon, "The Tax Treatment of Nonprofit Organizations: A Review of Federal and State Policies," The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook, ed. Walter W. Powell (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987) 67. 3 Charles T. Clotfelter, "Tax-Induced Distortions in the Voluntary Sector," Case Western Reserve Law Review 39 (1989): 664. 4 Joan M. Youngman, "The Politics of the Property-Tax Debate," Property Tax Exemption for Charities, ed. Evelyn Brody (Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute Press, 2002) 23.

Authors: Fanning, Mary.
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3
Introduction
Property tax exemptions are significant local government “subsidies” to nonprofit
hospitals. According to one expert, the estimated value of the property tax exemption for
While serious threats to the property tax exemption
for nonprofit organizations occur on a regular basis, the challenges during the second half
of the twentieth century have been characterized as “an unremitting state of siege.”
Clotfelter contends that the “public debate over nonprofit tax policy reflects both this
policy’s significance within the larger scope of American social policy and its financial
importance to the well-being of the nonprofit sector.”
Why has the property tax exemption received so much attention in recent years?
There are several possible answers to this question. According to Youngman, the
“inherently unsettled nature of a number of its central concepts, including elements as
basic as charity, public welfare, ownership, value, and even the definition of the tax
itself” contribute to the controversy.
Other explanations for the attention to property tax
exemptions most likely include growth in the number of nonprofits and the property used
by them; the political climate relative to tax increases, particularly property taxes; and
media attention given to all of these issues.
1
William Gentry and John Penrod, "The Tax Benefits of Not-for-Profit Hospitals," The Changing
Hospital Industry: Comparing Not-for-Profit and for-Profit Institutions, ed. David M. Cutler (Chicago:
University of Chicago, 2000) 286.
2
John G. Simon, "The Tax Treatment of Nonprofit Organizations: A Review of Federal and State
Policies," The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook, ed. Walter W. Powell (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1987) 67.
3
Charles T. Clotfelter, "Tax-Induced Distortions in the Voluntary Sector," Case Western Reserve
Law Review 39 (1989): 664.
4
Joan M. Youngman, "The Politics of the Property-Tax Debate," Property Tax Exemption for
Charities, ed. Evelyn Brody (Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute Press, 2002) 23.


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