Voluntary payments by nonprofits to their “host” jurisdiction

While nonprofit organizations, such as many colleges and universities,  enjoy special favored tax status including property tax exemption on property used for the nonprofit purpose (details depend on jurisdiction), those same organizations may nonetheless elect to make various types of voluntary payments to their jurisdiction.  Such a payment can be in recognition of the benefits derived in terms of municipal services provided by the jurisdiction, and also in recognition of the dependence of the nonprofit’s operations on the vitality and sustainability of the community in which it is located.  This latter issue has become increasingly salient as many municipalities encountered severe fiscal distress in the aftermath of the financial crisis.  A recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education addresses an new 11-year voluntary agreement recently arrived at between Brown University and Providence, RI.  A useful overview of “payments in lieu of taxes”, or PILOTs, is offered by Kenyon and Langley (2011) at the Lincoln Institute.  While not every voluntary agreement is officially labeled as a PILOT, it is a general term for a variety of types of monetary commitments from nonprofits to their host jurisdiction.

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