Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Washington, DC – Debating Equality of Tax Treatment Across Charities

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Catholic University in Washington, DC is hosting a symposium today, April 14, entitled  "Philanthropy in the 21st Century: Should All Charities Be Equal?"  The primary focus of the symposium is consideration of whether tax law should distinguish between different types of charities.  This issue raises questions of line drawing and what to emphasize in distinguishing charities from other companies and from each other.  Many charities engage in activities that closely resemble for-profit companies but enjoy more favorable tax treatment. 

One of the most recent and high profile examples of the issues in this area is the Provena case recently decided by the Illinois Supreme Court.  That case upheld denial of a charitable hospital's property tax exemption because the hospital had failed to provide sufficient charitable services.  Another question regarding the charitable exemption is whether charities directly aiding the poor deserve greater tax benefits.

The panelists include Diana Aviv, head of Independent Sector; Richard L. Schmalbeck, a professor of law at Duke University; Eugene Steuerle, a fellow at the  Urban Institute, a Washington think tank; and Russ Sullivan, chief of staff of the Senate Finance Committee and an aide to its chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana.  The moderator is Professor Roger Colinvaux, professor of?, Catholic University?.

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