Thursday, September 24, 2009

Did The Legislature Exempt All Nursing Homes From Property Taxation?

Help me out here. I've always thought that any for-profit business has to pay property taxes in Indiana. Well, that may not be the case in Indiana for for-profit nursing homes thanks to another item hidden away in the state budget adopted during the special session in June. According to the Logansport Pharos-Tribune's Jennifer Tangeman, attorneys for nursing homes have been instructing them to file for tax-exempt status and seek refunds for up to the past 10 years for taxes they've paid on their nursing homes as a result of a new law passed during the special session. Tangeman writes:

County council president Ralph Anderson had announced at the meeting that a law had been passed to allow for-profit nursing homes to file for an exemption from property taxes.

County Assessor Judy Lewis said she understood that any for-profit nursing home could apply to receive future tax exemptions, as well as a refund for already-paid taxes back to the year 2000.

“They can ask for all of the money back from the last 10 years,” Lewis said.

McClain said that wasn’t the intent of the amendment.

“In this special session budget bill was a statement that basically says if you are a not-for-profit and you did not file, you have until Sept. 1 of this year to file that, but you have to be a not-for-profit, or 501(c)3, to get that special tax exemption,” he said.

Law firms across the state, however, have been filing for the exemption for for-profit nursing homes. Pete Mallers, an attorney with Beers Mallers Backs and Salin LLC of Fort Wayne, filed on behalf of Logansport’s Woodbridge Health Campus, and he contends for-profit homes are eligible for the exemption.

“Indiana law changed a number of years ago in a court decision that opened up the exemption status for nonprofit nursing homes as well as for-profit nursing homes,” Mallers said. “But the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation last summer that broadened the scope of that and allowed tax-exempt entities that had not previously filed for the tax exempt status to file for refunds.”

Mallers said the statute was clear in stating that for-profit nursing homes can file.

“It has been Indiana law for a number of years,” he said. “And many, many people were not aware of that. Filing for the exemption is completely within the confines of the law. Otherwise it would not have been done.”

According to Mallers, the only difference is that now those entities can apply for a decade’s worth of refunds.

Lewis noted that disagreement could have a huge impact on the county budget. She noted that the refunds for Woodbridge Health Campus and Camelot Care Centers would total around $30 million . . .
State Rep. Rich McClain (R-Logansport) insists the county officials are misinterpreting the law and cites other cases that have been turned down elsewhere by the Indiana Tax Court, including a case filed in Hamilton County. Marcia Oddi of the Indiana Law Blog, who has studied the multiple surprises to be found in the state budget bill more than anyone, says she can't find the exemption language discussed in this news story.


Concerned Taxpayer said...

Which legislator (or party) wrote this piece of legislation?
And what year?

jabberdoodle said...

What a mess.

Paul K. Ogden said...

You didn't make the connection, Gary, but could it possibly have something to do with Health & Hospital buying up nursing homes throughout the state? They're worth more if they don't have to pay property taxes.