People who use facilities like the Door County YMCA, Ministry Door County Medical Center, Sunshine House and Boy and Girl Scout camps may want to watch a case working through Wisconsin courts. At issue is the fairness of property tax breaks.
In Mequon, the city has taxed a Jewish Community Center family water park the group believes should be exempt from property taxes. A recent court case in favor of the city brings into question property tax exemptions throughout Wisconsin.
State law specifically exempts property owned by organizations like Boy and Girl Scouts, YMCA's and The Salvation Army.
Jack Norman, head of the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future, wants to end many property exemptions for non-profit hospitals, churches, YMCA’s and other benevolent organizations. He advocates for payments to municipalities to cover services provided, payments-in-lieu-of-taxes.
Norman might find a receptive audience in the Wisconsin legislature. Tight budgets mean legislators may be open to talk about payment-in-lieu of taxes or simply ending property tax exemptions for some groups completely.
The good works of many non-profits justify their tax exempt status. If facilities like the YMCA had to pay local property taxes many important services could be eliminated.
Tax-exempt organizations making significant contribution to a better community need to solidify their case with legislators. Non-profit benevolent groups should not become the scapegoats for a legislature needing to balance a budget.
That’s my opinion. I’d like to hear yours.
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