End the Property Tax Exemption?

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Here’s a trial balloon. One state governor wants to end the property tax exemption for some non-profit organizations in the state. And in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico there is talk of taxing church property.

David Brunori at Forbes magazine writes, “Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) recently riled folks up by proposing to end property tax exemptions for some nonprofit organizations in the state. Organizations with assets of more than $500,000 would lose their exempt status. LePage’s proposal is part of a bigger plan that would greatly reduce state aid to local governments. The goal would be to allow the local governments to tax the big nonprofits, and the state would not have to send them as much money.

The vast majority of the nation’s, universities, nonprofit hospitals, and property owned by religious organizations are exempt from tax. Would be we lose the charitable work these organizations do if we start to tax the real estate? Should these non-profits pay taxes on their real estate because they use the roads, sewers, water and all the rest of the infrastructure, plus the fire and police protection, just as the rest of us do?

Brunori stresses that “This should be a bipartisan issue. Liberals should want to tax these entities because the government loses revenue that can be used for good things. Conservatives should be appalled by exemptions because these entities are getting “free” stuff that others — that is, those people who produce things — are paying for.

Maybe, it is the times we are living in, but it seems government needs more money to operate, and some traditional things that were off limits are now on the table.

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