The St. Louis County Assessor’s Office will undertake a review of all tax-exempt properties in the county to confirm their owners still qualify for the tax break.
Exemptions have been granted to thousands of non-profit groups because their properties are used for charitable, religious or educational purposes, but some of them no longer qualify, said County Assessor Jake Zimmerman.
Some groups may “simply be trying to hide in the robes of the non-profit while what they’re really doing looks like, talks like and quacks like a for-profit business,” he said. “It’s our responsibility to be diligent in reviewing them.”
Zimmerman has in the past opposed tax exempt statuses granted to some senior living facilities in the county that provide little or no charitable services.
“It might be the case that ten years ago someone pulled a political string or asked the county council to grant an exemption rather than going through the normal process,” he said. “Looking back on it now, I think the bottom line is nobody is entitled to a permanent tax exemption.”
Tax exemptions are typically granted by the County Board of Equalization, but the assessor has the power to remove them. The County Counselor has concluded that Zimmerman has both the authority and obligation to review previously-granted exemptions to determine their validity.
The Assessor’s Office will be seeking basic information from the non-profits and may perform site visits to validate claims, said Zimmerman. He did not offer a timeline for the review but said he intends it to be an ongoing effort that could take years to complete.