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December 30, 2014

Pa. Proposal Would Give Lawmakers Say on Charity Tax Breaks

Pennsylvanians could be asked to vote in 2015 on a state constitutional amendment that would grant legislators the power to determine which nonprofit groups qualify for property-tax exemptions, according to the Allentown Morning Call. Republican lawmakers are expected to renew their push for the amendment, which was approved by both houses in 2013 and would go to the ballot if passed again next year.

The proposal was prompted by a 2012 ruling by Pennsylvania's Supreme Court, which rejected an exemption for a nonprofit-owned summer camp and held that the judiciary has sole authority to determine whether an organization is a "purely public charity" and thus eligible for tax breaks under the state constitution. The fate of the amendment has financial implications running into the hundreds of millions of dollars for local governments and large nonprofits, according to a new report by the state's auditor general.