A 'purely public charity' should act like one

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The first time I talked to one of my friends about UPMC's tax exemptions, it went something like this:

"They don't pay taxes?"

"Well, they pay some, but nowhere near what they would if they were a company."

"How are they not considered a company?"

"They call themselves a nonprofit charitable organization."

"But they make so much money! And they aren't charitable at all! That's messed up!"

Since then, I've had this conversation many times with many people. Most agree: UPMC doesn't act like a charity. When pressed on how a nonprofit should act, I repurposed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's "I know it when I see it."

However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court told us last year exactly what a "purely public charity" must do to enjoy tax-exempt status, including "donate a substantial portion of its services" and "operate entirely free from private profit motive."

Most reasonable adults in southwestern Pennsylvania would agree that UPMC falls short on most of these criteria.

UPMC shuttered the only hospital in the low-income community of Braddock, then opened another hospital in richer Monroeville. When some of UPMC's lowest-paid workers tried to organize, UPMC unjustly fired two union activists and disciplined others.

UPMC can't have it both ways. It needs to start acting like a charity, or start paying taxes like a business.

Mon Valley Unemployed Committee



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