Copyright (c) 2006 University of Wisconsin Law School
Wisconsin Law Review
COMMENT: WHAT IS BENEVOLENCE? CLARIFYING WISCONSIN'S REAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION FOR BENEVOLENT ORGANIZATIONS AND THE ARGUMENT FOR THE "RETIREMENT" OF THE EXEMPTION FOR HIGH-END SENIOR-HOUSING COMPLEXES
2006 Wis. L. Rev. 1433
Imagine that you are the head of a nonprofit corporation in Wisconsin that owns a retirement-home complex. You provide luxury housing to wealthy elderly people who can afford a big upfront payment followed by significant monthly fees. Your complex does not have an age minimum for residents, although most are over sixty-five. The residents enjoy spacious rooms, step-less entries, extrawide doorways, and nonslip surfaces. Additional services - such as recreational, social, and educational programs - and even access to a business center and library are available. The residents may also choose to pay for transportation, medical, and housekeeping assistance. And it is likely that neither you nor your tenants have to pay any property taxes. 1
Now put yourself in the shoes of an average taxpayer who struggles to make ends meet each month. Every time a high-end senior-housing complex receives a property tax exemption, the tax burden shifts from that organization to other revenue sources - including you. 2 Not only do you have to pay your own property taxes, but you also have to help shoulder the taxes that pay for the city services that these complexes are receiving for free. Thus, you are contributing to the subsidization of an organization that benefits only a small segment of society. 3
Under Wisconsin Statutes section 70.11(4), benevolent organizations receive a total exemption from property taxes when they meet certain qualifications. 4 However, the definition of "benevolence" and the requirements needed ...
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