Nonprofits don't reply, may lose exemption
Allegheny County is set to revoke the tax-exempt status from almost 300 properties, some owned by Little League teams, volunteer fire departments and community organizations.
Nonprofits that failed to respond to the county's review of tax-exempt properties will lose their status at the beginning of 2014, county spokeswoman Amie Downs said. The county will notify delinquent organizations in December.
“One way or another, they are going to have to respond,” said county Solicitor Andrew Szefi, who noted that nonprofits that lose tax-exempt status can re-apply.
Despite repeated notifications, about 150 nonprofits — which collectively own 271 parcels — did not respond, county officials claim. Successfully revoked tax-exemptions for the properties could provide the county more than $800,000, officials said.
Peggy Outon, executive director of Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University in Moon, said many organizations on the list have small, volunteer staffs who did not understand what was asked of them or missed county notifications.
She suspects most of the organizations “haven't gotten their stuff together.”
“The ones who haven't responded are probably the small, the struggling and maybe the nonexistent,” she said.
Many of the nonprofits on the list did not respond to Tribune-Review inquiries.
County officials are reviewing 2,800 parcels designated as public charities and exempt from property taxes. County Council passed a law in 2007 requiring a review every three years, though this is the first. The goal is to ensure “that anyone who should be paying taxes is paying taxes,” Szefi said.
Organizations received letters in March asking them to justify their tax-exempt status for each property and explain their charity work. Ninety percent responded. County lawyers are looking at those responses — which range from two to 100 pages long, Szefi said.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald proposed bulking up the Law Department's budget by nearly $163,000 to hire staff for the review.
Twenty organizations acknowledged they no longer qualify for exempt status and will add more than $40,000 to tax collections, said Jerry Tyskiewicz, director of the Department of Administrative Services.
Several nonprofits facing action contend they did respond, despite the county's claim to the contrary.
Keith Giles, CEO of First Step Recovery Homes, said his organization submitted responses for all its properties but the county claims five are missing. First Step provides temporary housing for recovering addicts.
Carol Lennon, executive director of Gilda's Club of Western Pennsylvania, which provides support for people living with cancer, said her nonprofit complied even though the county routinely sends notices to the wrong address.
“I'm not surprised there's been so much confusion over this,” Lennon said.
Tyskiewicz said the county verified its list in October and is confident with its assessment.
Aaron Aupperlee is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 3-alarm fire burns Hill District row homes
- New Monroeville Mall policy aims to tame teen shoppers
- Black Pittsburghers still challenged in education, workforce, housing
- Port Authority focusing on natural-gas bus fleet for proposed rapid transit line
- Pittsburgh police chief: Officers, public must unite against violence
- Officials investigating fatal Shaler house fire, working to identify body found in rubble
- Company claims Carnegie Mellon University defrauded it on Tartarstan venture
- University of Pittsburgh Senior Vice Chancellor Humphrey to be paid $395K a year
- Federal judge dismisses Monongahela mayor’s lawsuit against district judge, district attorney
- McCandless mortgage broker company president charged with bank fraud conspiracy
- Woman sues Allegheny County, alleges sex harassment during prisoner transport