Davis Administration to Review Erie County's Non-profit Property Tax Exemptions
Erie County Executive Brenton Davis is putting local non-profit organizations on notice.
According to Davis, he has directed the county's finance office to take inventory of every single non-profit in Erie County.
Davis says his administration is checking to make sure each non-profit meets the five criteria that are necessary for tax-exempt status.
"We're not here to demonize non-profits, because there are a lot of non-profits that truly do pass the legal test, the five criteria the makes someone a non-profit entity," said Davis. "However, we know that there are non-profits out here that aren't under pay in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements, that don't pay their fair share and what that does, is it disproportionately places that taxpayer burden on these residents."
According to the PA Department of Revenue, non-profits must meet the following criteria to qualify as tax-exempt:
(1) advance a charitable purpose;
(2) donate or render gratuitously a substantial portion of its services;
(3) benefit a substantial and indefinite class of persons who are legitimate subjects
(4) relieve the government of some burden; and
(5) operate entirely free from private profit motive.
Davis says he will challenge the tax-exempt status of organizations that do not meet the criteria.
"There are a lot of non-profits that do contribute, that do give back and then do offset the public demands for services, but there's also a lot that don't," said Davis. "We're going to start by drawing this hard line, and we're going to make sure that taxpayers of Erie County and these folks out here who are overburdened by these taxes, get a fair shake."
Moving forward, Davis also says non-profits will receive county funding based on past performances and how they spend their money.
This story is supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.