Tuesday, March 1, 2011
In my post yesterday on Dialysis Clinic, Inc. v. Levin, I concluded that the state budget mess probably meant that we had not seen the end of debate over property tax exemptions for nonprofit hospitals. A recent article in the Flathead Beacon appears to back me up. The article discusses a bill in the Montana legislature would end property tax exemption for most nonprofit health care providers. The sponsor, Rep. Keith Regier, argues that hospitals use services provided by taxpayers (roads, sewers, fire departments, police, etc.) and hence should pay their share. More interesting, however, is Regiers' view that hospitals are “building large medical empires” and purchasing properties – including offices and apartments – that are in turn taken off the tax rolls. The bill would allow counties to vote on the tax-exempt status of critical access hospitals, which are smaller, more rural facilities.
Though the bill appears dead for now, it highlights the continuing debate in states regarding property tax exemptions, particularly for large nonprofit hospitals.