Here’s a new wrinkle in the ever-popular saga “Taxation of the Tax Exempt”: members of the Scranton City Council threaten to withhold zoning changes from owners of tax-exempt property unless they make “voluntary” PILOTS (Payments In Lieu Of Taxation). I’m certainly open to the notion that non-charitable tax-exempt organizations should have to pay property taxes, even as I acknowledge that the definition of “charitable” remains contested.
But let’s settle these issues in open political debate, with nonprofits able to make their case that they are truly charitable, and/or that their contribution to the public good entitles them to property tax exemption whether or not they’re charitable in some strict definition of the word. Just for the sake of being reality-based, let’s not torture the concept of “voluntary” by suggesting that a payment extorted in return for rezoning is somehow a free-will contribution to the public fisc.
Cross-posted to nonprofiteer.net