Allegheny County to require nonprofits to prove they deserve tax breaks

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Allegheny County soon will require all nonprofits with tax-exempt properties to prove they deserve their tax breaks.

At tonight's county council meeting, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald will announce an enforcement blitz, sending letters to all 9,000 nongoverment tax-exempt property owners in the county to demand proof they're still in the business of doing good.

County council passed a law requiring this review in 2007, a requirement that has never been enforced.

Currently, when a nonprofit applies for a tax exemption on a property, its request is filed away after approval, never to be revisited. If the building's use subsequently changes, the county has no way of knowing.

High-profile nonprofits, including health care giant UPMC, have come under fire for their massive inventory of tax-exempt properties that may or may not still qualify for protection. Both county and Pittsburgh city councils have raised questions about taxes owed by nonprofits.

Last week, protesters rallied outside the City-County Building Downtown against UPMC, saying the nonprofit barely resembles the charity it claims to be. Their statements drew support from both city and county officials.

Mr. Fitzgerald couldn't say how long the review would take, but said letters would go out to property owners within the next two months. In some cases, the Office of Property Assessment will follow up with site visits.

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Andrew McGill: amcgill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1497


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