Benjamin Franklin once wrote “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” While this famous quote still rings true, there are a few valuable exceptions. Under Article 8, Section 2 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, the General Assembly may enact laws exempting certain properties from taxation. For instance, Section 204(a)(2) of the General County Assessment Law (the “Act”) provides that “[a]ll actual places of burial, including burial grounds and all mausoleums, vaults, crypts or structures intended to hold or contain the bodies of the dead” shall be exempt from all county, city, borough, town, township, road, poor and school tax. In addition to cemeteries, there are 12 other types of properties that are exempt under Section 204(a) of the Act.
However, while a portion of a property may be exempt from taxation under Section 204, other portions of the same property may not. The extent of a property’s exemption depends on the specific language employed in Section 204. Indeed, whereas Section 204(a)(2) exempts “actual places of burial”, Section 204(a)(1) exempts “churches, meeting-houses, or other actual places of regularly stated religious worship, with the ground thereto annexed necessary for the occupancy and enjoyment of the same.” Other exemptions under Section 204(a) include similar language that can make it difficult to pinpoint the extent of a property’s exemption. That said, it is clear that the use of all portions of the property must be considered, and not only the use of buildings or improvements.
Continue Reading “Nothing is certain except death and taxes”… unless a Pennsylvania Tax Exemption Applies