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Illinois Deciding If Hospitals Owe Taxes

The Illinois Department of Revenue said it is prepared to move swiftly on decisions about which not-for-profit hospitals deserve tax breaks.                                            

The state had held off making any decisions since fall while it, hospitals and consumer health advocates negotiated to determine how much charity not-for-profit hospitals must provide in order to get out of paying property taxes.

But they failed to reach an agreement by Governor Pat Quinn's March 1 deadline so the department will resume issuing rulings.

Revenue spokeswoman Sue Hofer said a backlog of up to 18 cases -- including Memorial Hospital in Carthage -- has built up in the interim.  She said that will decrease as decisions are made by the end of this month.

"We look forward to doing our job and making decisions, so that both the entities that we're determining about and the local governments will have closure on how much money they can expect to gain in taxes, or how much money they may have to pay in taxes,” Hofer said.

Hofer said the constitution and court precedence establish what hospitals have to do to qualify.

But the Illinois Hospital Association's Danny Chun said the standards are not clear even though big money's at stake.

"In some cases it could be millions of dollars a year. It just depends on the property that's being looked at," Chun said.

He said money spent paying a local tax bill is money that is not going to health care.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio


Rich is TSPR's News Director.