Underused Buildings in Pittsburgh Spark Tax Bill

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February 10, 2011; Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is taking its good partner, the city of Pittsburgh, to the state Supreme Court over a tax bill. There are two buildings for which the trust has received tax bills – one is being underutilized and the other is empty.

This, the city says, means that the property is not being used for a charitable purpose and therefore has moved into a taxable status. The trust says that they are using the buildings as a placeholder for their plans to establish a city cultural district and therefore do have a charitable purpose.

Although the case does not seem to be tearing at the relationship between the trust and the city, others are worried about the outcome. “If the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of the government, it would, I’m sure, open the door for a parade of additional cases,” commented Joe Geiger, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations.—Ruth McCambridge