The NY Times reported that faced with steep declines in tax revenue, an increasing number of states and localities are considering eliminating various tax exemptions for nonprofit groups.
A bill before the Hawaii Legislature, for instance, would require charities to pay a 1 percent tax, and Kansas is considering making them subject to sales taxes.
Revoking the nonprofit organizations’ exemptions from property taxes is also under scrutiny in several counties in Kansas, as well as in Pennsylvania.
And last fall, Minneapolis made charities subject to the fees it charges businesses and residents for streetlights in hope of gaining an additional $155,000, an exercise Jon Pratt, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, describes as “looking under the sofa cushions.”
In most cases, churches would be exempt from the tax measures, but all other nonprofit groups, including private schools and colleges, would be affected.
City and state officials say they have no choice.
“We’re having to look at the public services nonprofits use and how we can adequately cover those costs,” said Matt Greller, executive director of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns. “We can’t give them away for free any longer.”
Nonprofit groups say the moves to wring revenue out of them are shortsighted and will produce cutbacks in critical services that governments rely on them to provide, like mental health and emergency foster care services.
“Nonprofits are really hurting in this economy,” said Tim Delaney, chief executive of the National Council of Nonprofits, a trade association. “Their revenues are down, too, and demand for the services they provide, services that government expects them to provide, is way up.” Read more here.