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PA Supreme Court Rejects Help
From Legislature in Defining Charity
Case will unsettle status of real estate tax exemptions
throughout the state as taxing authorities challenge rulings
A 4-3 decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has rejected help from the state Legislature in defining the constitutional contours of an “institution of purely public charity” eligible for state real estate tax exemption and opened the way for local taxing authorities to challenge existing exemptions to generate more local revenue. (Mesivtah Eitz Chaim of Bobov v. Pike County Board of Assessment Appeals, No. 16 MAP 2011, 4/25/12.)
Less than a week after the decision, a representative of the Philadelphia City Solicitor’s office suggested that tax-exempt hospitals and universities come to talk about payments in lieu of taxes in order to prevent challenges to their status, echoing the state-wide efforts of local governments to exploit uncertainty about the definition of charity to obtain PILOTS in the 1990s.
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