IL hospitals fear loss of tax exemption

The News-Gazette, September 6, 2011
Two new buildings created some badly-needed new space—and a dilemma—for Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. A not-for-profit hospital and clinic system in Coles County, Sarah Bush Lincoln placed its new buildings on taxable land. Now the buildings, which are housing both hospital and doctors' offices, are being assessed for taxes, unless Sarah Bush Lincoln decides to file a protest, the systems's Vice President of Financial Services Craig Sheagren says. That hasn't been decided yet, because daring to seek an exemption on any buildings could land the health center squarely where no Illinois hospital wants to be right now, under the microscope of the state Department of Revenue and possibly subject to losing the tax exemption on Sarah Bush Lincoln's hospital buildings. Illinois hospitals got their first major warning about losing charitable tax exemptions when the state Department of Revenue first removed Provena Covenant Medical Center's exemption in 2006, then yanked Carle Foundation Hospital's exemption. Last year, after the state Supreme Court ultimately found Provena Covenant was taxable, the Department of Revenue began looking at a stack of applications from other hospitals in Illinois seeking tax exemptions. In August, the department preliminarily denied exemptions for three more hospitals, in Chicago, Naperville and Decatur.

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