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All property should be taxed, even for non-profits
Written by Marie Alena Castle, North Minneapolis resident
Posted  10/27/2010
Minneapolis and St. Paul alone are estimated to have about a fourth of their real estate tax exempt. This consists primarily of religious and secular non-profit land and facilities. Extrapolated statewide, this has to amount to a huge source of potential revenue even if only a fee for public services is levied. So why not tax all property?

Given the dire financial straits we are in, it seems reasonable to ask that those who pay nothing begin to pay something to help lift us out of this mess. There may even be enough potential revenue from these tax-exempt properties to eliminate any need for other tax increases and service cutbacks. A general reduction of all property taxes may even be possible. These organizations are also exempt from state sales taxes, so eliminating that would generate still more revenue.

Would these organizations be substantially harmed by removing their tax exemptions? Probably not. Many smaller non-profits lease or rent their facilities, so they already pay taxes through their lease/rent arrangements. Those that depend on donations would surely see enough increases there to cover their tax costs, assuming their services are valued enough to generate donations at all. It would help enormously if the potential revenue available were published so citizens could evaluate the worth of this proposal.

Marie Alena Castle
North Minneapolis

Northeaster Opinion