Policymakers are increasingly interested in quantifying nonprofit hospitals’ tax benefits to assess whether hospitals’ nonprofit status is justified. Property taxes that nonprofits would otherwise pay are among the more difficult tax benefit to quantify. This paper aims to educate stakeholders on the issues with estimating nonprofit hospitals’ property tax benefits. We focus on Indiana because of relative advantages in its property tax record system. We first use a statewide database that identifies tax-exempt hospital properties to estimate property tax savings for all nonprofit hospitals in the state. We then examine five counties to quantify property tax benefits for specific hospitals. Using statewide data, we estimate a total property tax savings of $75.3 million in 2020 for all nonprofit hospitals in Indiana. However, upon closer examination of the five selected counties, we find that the state’s identification code for hospital properties fails to identify over 500 property accounts associated with the nonprofit hospitals. Allowing for these additional properties increases nonprofit hospitals’ tax savings in these counties by about 71%. These results suggest that our statewide estimate most likely understates nonprofit hospitals’ property tax benefits by a significant amount. If statewide estimates were comparably understated, property tax savings in 2020 for all nonprofit hospitals in Indiana would be closer to $128 million. We conclude with policy recommendations.
Hospitals; Nonprofit organizations; Tax incentives
We thank Rick Baker (Controller, Lutheran Health Network), Barry Wood (Assessment Division Director, Indiana Department of Local Government Finance), and Gloria Sachdev (President and CEO, Employers’ Forum of Indiana) for providing useful information, and thank Brian Blase and Caroline DeBerry for their helpful comments and suggestions. This research is supported by Paragon Health Institute, Arnold Ventures, and PatientRightsAdvocate.org.
Plummer, E., & Bai, G. (2023). Nonprofit hospitals' property tax benefits: Evidence from Indiana. Journal of Property Tax Assessment & Administration, 20(2). Retrieved from https://researchexchange.iaao.org/jptaa/vol20/iss2/2