No More Tax Breaks For Nonprofits

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Nonprofits looking for a new home may want to avoid Fairfax County, Va., unless they are prepared to pay property taxes.
The county board of supervisors voted Oct. 7 to suspend granting any property tax exemptions in the county, due to budget shortfalls. The suspension does not affect nonprofits that already have exemptions.

Board members were reluctant to adopt the measure, but said they had no choice. “We need every penny to provide services to our constituents,” said Sharon Bulova, one of 10 Fairfax County supervisors.

“I hope that nonprofits don’t think that the county doesn’t understand and appreciate their dilemma and that they realize that this should be viewed as a time out, not as a permanent moratorium.”

County, state and local governments nationwide are feeling the effects of the economic slowdown, raising the possibility that other jurisdictions may follow Fairfax County’s lead.

“This could very well become a trend for areas that are struggling financially. It is typical to consider anyone who is exempt from taxes when governments are faced with budget deficits,” said Catherine Hudgins, secretary-treasurer of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

If a trend does materialize, the losses for the nonprofit organizations would be immeasurable.

“If the constituents vote yes to this proposal, then other counties experiencing the same budget problems may look to this method as well in order to gain some extra monies,” Hudgins said.

What’s more, when the suspension is up, the county supervisors “intend to re-evaluate the criteria for exempting organizations, because in the past, the county has endorsed some nonprofits and later wondered why,” Supervisor Bulova said.

The county still provides other types of financial support to nonprofits. For instance, Fairfax County pays the rent and utilities for Food for Others, which helps to feed the hungry.

“It is a shame that the [nonprofit] organizations that are just starting up won’t be able to get that extra help, but they should still look to the county for other support,” said Fred Dumoney, the agency’s executive director.

Contact: Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (703) 324-2321,