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Prove tax-exempt status

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Thursday, March 28, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

The news story “Ravenstahl: Pittsburgh sues to remove UPMC's tax-exempt status” (March 21 and included this quote from UPMC spokesman Paul Wood: “The challenge to UPMC's tax-exempt status appears to be based on the mistaken impression that a nonprofit organization must conduct its affairs in a way that pleases certain labor unions, certain favored businesses or particular political constituencies — in other words, the way that some local governments are also run.”

As nonprofits expand in local municipalities, taking properties off of tax rolls while utilizing municipal infrastructure and public safety services, it is not unreasonable to request verification of an organization's nonprofit status and claim to tax exemptions. In fact, it is within the scope of good governance.

Historically, hospitals were started by religious or civic groups as nonprofits having no direct relation to a particular health insurance corporation, and accepting most major insurances, treating those unable to pay as part of charitable outreach. Now, as corporations purchase or direct these hospitals/properties, the legacy “charity/nonprofit” designation seems a right. Reapplication will clarify whether the nonprofit designation still applies.

Local governments, with ever-shrinking resources, work hard to provide services to their constituents, as well as to the for-profit and nonprofit businesses within their borders. Many local government officials also contribute their own time and money to free care funds and nonprofit fundraisers.

Patricia Schaefer


The writer, a Democrat and full-time oncology nurse, is council president in Edgewood.

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