Retirement Community Qualifies as a Charity 

Tax Alert

February 20, 2014

A panel of the Commonwealth Court concluded that a continuing care retirement community qualified as an institution of purely public charity and was therefore exempt from real estate tax, except for a remand regarding application of the exemption to two relatively minor parcels. Albright Care Services v. Union County Board of Assessment, No. 2094 C.D. 2012 (Pa. Commw. Jan. 29, 2014) (unreported). The questions were whether the institution qualified as a purely public charity under case law and under Act 1997-55. The Commonwealth Court held that the trial court correctly analyzed the case law and the statutory requirements except that the court remanded for specific findings regarding two relatively small tax parcels for determinations whether they were used for a charitable purpose. The assessment board and taxing authorities claimed that the institution did not gratuitously donate a substantial portion of its services. The question revolved around an accounting analysis for Medicaid patients. Without discussing the particulars, the court found no fault that the trial court had resolved the disagreement in favor of the institution based on the testimony of an expert witness who relied on generally accepted accounting principles. The court further cited, among other things, the maintenance by the institution of a Meals On Wheels program and a program to support individuals who wanted to remain at home notwithstanding particular medical needs. The court further found that the institution served an appropriate class of beneficiaries. The conclusion was not undermined by the fact that substantial payments were required of individuals choosing to move into independent living facilities. All levels of services were nonetheless available to all residents, including a substantial number of Medicaid patients.


Joseph C. Bright


(215) 665-2053

Dan A. Schulder


(717) 703-5905

Cheryl A. Upham


(215) 665-4193

Related Practices

To discuss any questions you may have regarding the opinion discussed in this Alert, or how it may apply to your particular circumstances, please contact: Joseph C. Bright at or 215.665.205, Dan A. Schulder at or 717.703.5905 or Cheryl A. Upham at or 215.665.4193.