Scavello Resolution Creating a Select Committee on Purely Public Charities Set for Committee Approval

Harrisburg – A measure sponsored by Senator Mario Scavello (R-40) to establish a select committee on “Purely Public Charities” is set to be reported out of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.

Under Senate Resolution 28, the bipartisan Select Committee on Institutions of Purely Public Charity will conduct statewide hearings and work with non-profits, elected officials, tax experts, public safety organizations and other stakeholders to determine whether additional legislation is needed and make recommendations relating to legislation on the treatment of purely public charities in Pennsylvania.

“The interests of our counties, municipalities and school districts, and the interests of taxpayers, must be carefully balanced with the interests of charities which provide critical services to the public,” Scavello said. “The Select Committee on Institutions of Purely Public Charity will explore whether legislation is required to achieve the appropriate balance between the cost of services provided by local governments and the protection of our public charities.”

The select committee would consist of legislators appointed by Senate and House leaders, members of the Senate and House Finance committees, members of the Senate and House Local Government committees, and the Secretary of Revenue.

The committee would have one year from its creation to report its findings. The senator introduced a similar measure as Senate Bill 446.

With Act 55 of 1997, the General Assembly used its constitutional power to provide clear and uniform standards in statute to define which purely public charitable institutions may claim a tax exemption. A 2012 state Supreme Court decision struck down the provisions and reinstated standards established by the courts as the means to determine the definition of a charity. The decision has created uncertainty and the potential for increased litigation.

The Senate recently approved a proposed constitutional amendment to restore the General Assembly’s power to determine whether an institution is a purely public charity.

“This issue greatly impacts local taxpayers as well as those who benefit from charitable services,” Scavello said. “It’s important that we get it right, and this measure provides the means to do just that.”

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CONTACT: Christine Zubeck (717) 787-6123