Senate Approves Scavello Resolution Creating a Select Committee on Purely Public Charities

Harrisburg – A measure sponsored by Senator Mario Scavello (R-40) to establish a select committee on “Purely Public Charities” was unanimously passed by the Pennsylvania State Senate today.

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.

“We have nearly 100,000 nonprofits across the Commonwealth, providing critical services to our communities, helping vulnerable populations in this Commonwealth and reducing the burden of local governments with regard to administering government functions for those populations,” said Scavello. “This makes it vital for the legislature to talk about the many issues and meet with all stakeholders involved to achieve the appropriate balance between the cost of services provided by local governments and the protection of our local 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.

“While there is universal agreement that the Commonwealth needs a legal environment in which charities can thrive, municipalities and school districts are struggling with the increasing costs and services and the expansion of charitable tax deductions,” said Scavello. “Any action the General Assembly takes will have significant impact. The Select Committee on Institutions of Purely Public Charity will help ensure that the impact is a positive one.”

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CONTACT: Christine Zubeck (717) 787-6123