Saturday, January 09, 2010

Pennsylvania Says Hasidic Jewish Summer Camp Does Not Qualify For Property Tax Exemption

In Mesivtah Eitz Chaim of Bobov, Inc. v. Pike County Board of Assessment Appeals, (PA Comnwlth. Ct., Dec. 29, 2009), a Pennsylvania appellate court upheld the denial of a property tax exemption to a 60-acre Jewish summer camp located in Pennsylvania and operated by the Bobov Orthodox Jewish community (also known as the Bobover Hasidim) headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y. The camp attracts boys from New York, Canada, England and Israel. Pennsylvania has a series of criteria that an organization must meet in order to qualify for a tax exemption as a "purely public charity." The court agreed that the camp "benefits a substantial and indefinite class of persons who are the legitimate subjects of charity," but it did not meet a second requirement that "it relieves the government of some of its burden." The court reasoned:
Mesivtah did not present any evidence that the camp’s recreational and food facilities alleviate any local community burdens in Pike County.... In addition, although the food facilities are open to the public, the general public does not use the camp's facilities.