Proposal would bar communities from challenging charity status

Written by Craig Layne and Radio Pennsylvania | Feb 23, 2013 7:04 AM

(Harrisburg) -- A midstate lawmaker is pushing a proposal to limit communities' ability to challenge the tax-exempt status of charities and non-profits.

State Senator Mike Brubaker says the measure to amend the state Constitution will clairfy the status of public charities, like hospitals.

The Lancaster County Republican says a 2012 state Supreme Court ruling created the problem by denying charity status to a Pike County summer camp.

"Public charities statewide can now have their public charity status called into question," Brubaker says. "This court case will continue to cause confusion regarding the criteria for purely public charity status and will lead to additional litigation if clarification is not provided."

The proposal has made it out of the Senate Finance Committee, but amending the Constitution is a lengthy process that would likely take at least four years and require a voter-approved referendum.

The State Association aof Township Commissioners and the Pennsylvania Municipal League oppose the measure.

They argue it would have a negative impact on taxpayers by taking away communities' ability to collect property taxes on organizations deemed not to be charities.

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