Recent Real Estate Tax Decisions

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Church of the Overcomer v. Delaware County Board of Assessment Appeals, No. 269 C.D. 2010 (March 17, 2011)

The Commonwealth Court has held that a church’s community center was not entitled to an exemption from real estate taxation. After first determining that the exempt status of the community center must be considered separate from the status of the church, the Court considered whether the community center met all of the requirements of the Institutions of Purely Public Charity Act. The Court determined that the center had failed to satisfy the “community service” and “charity to persons” elements of the Act, because the center failed to show that it provided services to individuals unable to provide for themselves, or had made known the availability of free services to the public.

City of Philadelphia v. Cumberland County Board of Assessment Appeals, No. 1725 C.D. 2010 (April 4, 2011)

The Commonwealth Court has held that investment property owned by a charitable trust was not entitled to an exemption from real estate taxation. The trustee, the City of Philadelphia, derived investment income from the property which it used for the benefit of Girard College. The Court determined that the City’s role as trustee did not establish that the trust was a Commonwealth agency immune from real estate taxation. The Court also determined that the trust, while qualifying as an institution of purely public charity, did not use the instant property for its charitable purpose, as it was used solely to generate investment income.

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