Thursday, March 6, 2014

Meridian International Center loses property tax exemption

The Meridian International Center (MIC) is an eminent nonprofit organization whose mission is “to create innovative exchange, education, cultural, and policy programs that advance three goals:

1)    Strengthen U.S. engagement with the world through the power of exchange;

2)    Prepare public and private sector leaders for a complex global future; [and]

3)    Provide a neutral forum for international collaboration across sectors.”

After enjoying a property tax exemption for 50 years, MIC lost it’s exemption after the Office of Tax and Revenue concluded the organization’s mission “does not directly benefit the residents of D.C. as the law requires.”

CFO Jeffrey DeWitt explains, “Meridian’s activities primarily focus on international affairs and strengthening international understanding through the exchange of people, ideas and culture between the United States and foreign countries….Based on a review of Meridian’s activities, OTR determined that Meridian did not meet the requirements for exemption as a public charity or school.”

However, in an attempt to distinguish MIC from other D.C. nonprofits whose tax exemptions were revoked for the same reasons, Ambassador Stuart Holiday argues that MIC does directly impact D.C. residents by working with school children, working with the D.C. government on international outreach, MIC’s museum is open to the people, it receives grants from the city, and it was chartered as an educational and cultural institution.

Are Holiday’s arguments persuasive?


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