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Tax-Exempt Charitable Groups Targeted

Old age has put kinks in the Idaho law that exempts nonprofit charitable organizations from property tax.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee approved a bill Monday that would create an interim committee to study the archaic law that provides property tax exemptions to charitable organizations and nonprofit hospitals.

Questions surfaced last summer when the Ada County commissioners sent St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center a property tax bill for the first time. The nonprofit hospital contends it’s exempt.

The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Mike Simpson, R-Blackfoot, also defers St. Luke’s property taxes until March 1999 so the hospital and county can reach a settlement.

“This legislation is not to slap the hands or criticize the Ada County commissioners,” Simpson said. “I think they have taken a stance that is pretty courageous. It has forced the Legislature to look at nonprofits.”

Simpson said nonprofits don’t pay property tax based on the theory that the community benefits from their services.

Woody Richards, a St. Luke’s spokesman, said current tax exemptions don’t make sense. He questioned why St. Luke’s has to start paying property taxes when the Coeur d’Alene Golf Course remains exempt.

The study committee would explore what nonprofits rightfully qualify for property tax exemptions.

The bill moves next to the House for debate.

, DataTimes

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