For Immediate Release
Senate Approves Measure to Protect Charitable Organizations
HARRISBURG The Senate approved legislation today that would ensure purely public charities retain eligibility for property tax exemptions, according to Senator Mike Brubaker (R-36).
Purely public charities are exempt from paying local real estate taxes as part of a law passed by the General Assembly in 1997. However, a recent state Supreme Court ruling (Mesivtah vs. Pike County Board of Assessment Appeals) applied a different standard to determine which organizations qualified for an exemption, leaving the eligibility of many charities in question.
Senate Bill 161 would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to clearly define a purely public charity and ensure these organizations are eligible for an exemption from paying property taxes. Brubaker said the measure would ensure charitable organizations face fewer legal challenges from local taxing bodies.
"The Supreme Court's ruling would allow municipal governments and school boards to consider placing a heavier tax burden on charitable organizations whose only goal is building stronger communities and protecting our most vulnerable citizens," Brubaker said. "This ruling is worlds apart from the legislative intent of protecting charitable organizations that serve the interests of the community. My legislation would provide the certainty that charities and local governments need to avoid time-consuming and costly battles in court."
Senate Bill 161 was introduced by Brubaker and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25). The legislation will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Because the bill would amend the state Constitution, the measure would have to be approved by the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions and be approved by state voters via referendum to become law.