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Georgia Property Tax Case Narrows Exemption for Non-Profits

Georgia has seen a flurry of activity recently around the issue of whether a non-profit must actually put its property to exempt/charitable use to qualify for the “purely public charity” property tax exemption, or whether the property must merely b

November 21, 2012

Georgia has seen a flurry of activity recently around the issue of whether a non-profit must actually put its property to exempt/charitable use to qualify for the “purely public charity” property tax exemption, or whether the property must merely be dedicated to exempt use. The issue frequently arises when a non-profit owns property that is under construction, or when it purchases and holds property while it collects donations to complete the construction or renovation. In a disappointing ruling, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that, at least in the context of the “purely public charity” exemption under O.C.G.A. § 48-5-41(a)(4), construction or renovation of the property is not enough to qualify for the exemption. H.O.P.E. Through Divine Interventions, Inc. v. Fulton County Bd. of Tax Assessors, No. A12A1100, 2012 WL 5859671 (Ga. Ct. App. Nov. 16, 2012). Even though the construction/renovation may be a necessary step in providing charitable services, the court concluded that the exemption only applies to property actually being used for the charitable purpose. On the facts of the case, a non-profit permanent supportive housing charity was denied an exemption for the tax years in which the property was being renovated.

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