Friday, January 30, 2015

Pennsylvania Constitutional Amendment Over "Purely Public Charity" Causing Controversy

According to The Times Herald in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania voters could may be voting on a state constitutional amendment to resolve a long-running dispute about who decides which charities should be exempt from taxes, a determination that has serious repercussions not only for the purported charity itself but also the cities and towns in which they are based.  A constitutional amendment passed the Pa. Legislature during its last session that would confer upon the Legislature explicit authority to “establish uniform standards and qualifications” in determining what constitutes a "purely public charity" (and thus tax-exempt) under the Pennsylvania Institutions of Purely Public Charity Act (Act 55 of 1997).  According to The Times Herald, "hospital and health-related organizations, religious groups and other nonprofits have urged lawmakers to advance the proposal, while municipal officials say it might add to their already disproportionate number of tax-exempt properties."

If Pennsylvania legislators approve the legislation again within the next two years, voters will vote on the measure as a referendum.  According to the article, the May 19 primary is the earliest possible date it could reach voters. 

 (See a Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda for further information on the legislation).

Nicholas Mirkay

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/nonprofit/2015/01/pennsylvania-constitutional-amendment-over-purely-public-charity-causing-controversy.html

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