Non-profit hospitals' tax status eyed

March 20, 2006 at 12:33 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- Some congressmen say many non-profit U.S. hospitals aren't providing enough charity care to justify their tax-exempt status.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has been examining the tax exemptions given non-profit organizations such as United Way and the American Red Cross. But now he's broadening his investigation to include non-profit hospitals, The New York Times reported Monday.

A similar investigation was started last year by Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Mark Everson,commissioner of internal revenue, told The Times tax officials have found few differences between non-profit and for-profit hospitals "in their operations, their attention to the benefit of the community or their levels of charity care."

Everson noted Internal Revenue Service laws governing tax exemptions have little changed since 1969 and, in fact, less has been required for hospitals to maintain tax-exempt status.

Before then hospitals had to provide charity care before they could qualify for tex-exempt status, The Times said. Since then, such care has not been specifically required as long as hospitals provide other services, such as health fairs, screenings for cancer, and emergency care departments.

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