Comments for: Should a private Hebron school have to pay property taxes? Maine high court will decide

Posted Dec. 09, 2012, at 6:44 a.m.
Last modified Dec. 09, 2012, at 9:25 a.m.

HEBRON | The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday will hear arguments on whether Hebron Academy should pay property taxes on Robinson Arena and other facilities the school rents to outside groups. The results of that decision could be expensive for this private college-preparatory school, and could result in …

Guidelines for posting on bangordailynews.com

The Bangor Daily News encourages comments about stories, but you must follow our terms of service.

  1. Keep it civil and stay on topic
  2. No vulgarity, racial slurs, name-calling or personal attacks.
  3. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked.
The primary rule here is pretty simple: Treat others with the same respect you'd want for yourself. Here are some guidelines (see more):

  • Anonymous

    Good Grief, tax exempt needs to end, the private property owners can no longer carry the load of these mandated town budgets, yes they, the Academy needs to pay taxes, in my opinion.

    • maineiac123

      Trying to put the school of our business are you? How about churches, want to tax them too? And the Boy/Girl Scouts? Hospitals? Food banks?

      • Anonymous

        they are ripping off tax payers in more ways then one .

      • Anonymous

        In short, yes.

  • Dope Boy

    If your for profit, which you seem to be with your rentals, then you PAY !

    • Anonymous

      As I learned awhile ago, non-profit organizations can indeed make a profit. It is all in the accounting semantics. Really the whole concept of “non-profit” as most Americans take it to mean is, well, it is an out an out lie. Incredibly many of us still believe the words “non-profit” to be accurate but they are not. Want proof? Just look the company officers’ salaries of some national non-profit organizations.

      • yanquilove

        Are non-profits supposed to loose money in order to maintain their tax-exempt status? A non-profit entity still has to be run like a business.

        • Anonymous

          and their CEO salaries ‘prove ‘ it.

          • maineiac123

            The CEO salaries of most non-proifts are usually much much lower than the CEO salaries of non-profit companies. But there is no arguing with people who already have their mind made up.

      • maineiac123

        The fact that officers salaries can be high for some of these organizations doesn’t mean they are for profit. I think most of the people posting here really have no idea what non-profit means. It does not mean that you cannot take in more than your expenses, it’s what you do with the income that you do receive. Are you paying it out to stockholders or doing the work of the non-profit organization, in this case using the income to support the school? I would find it hard to believe the SJC will say this property is taxable merely because it is rented out once in a while.

      • Anonymous

        like the Maine Heritage Center or Freedomworks or Crossroads.. how did they get classified as “charities ” or “educational institutes”…Their purpose is purely partisan politics with the focus being promoting the freemarket and free entereprise to enrich their funders..

  • StillRelaxin

    Odd how they say that the money they earn via rentals is “incidental and intermittent” yet they would be severely harmed if they even had to pay taxes on that income. You know folks aren’t being honest when they start talking out of both sides of their mouths.

    • Anonymous

      You are misunderstanding – the tax is not on rental income; the town is saying that if they rent out a facility (even one day per year) they need to pay property tax on the facility for the entire year.

      • Anonymous

        Sounds good to me. If they don’t want to pay the taxes, then don’t rent it out.

    • maineiac123

      It’s not that they are paying taxes on that income, they would be forced to pay property taxes on the property rented. That could be far in excess of what they receive in income.

      • Anonymous

        BUT they ARE making a profit from renting the buildings .

        • maineiac123

          No they are not making a “profit”. The are making some money but it’s far from being a profit. All charitable organizations make money in some fashion, whether it’s rental, investment income or donations, it’s what they do with the money that determines whether they are a profit making organization.

  • Anonymous

    well I guess this explains Lepage’s comment: :” if Maine students want a GOOD education they should go to Maine’s private ‘academies” They named a building after him and he soul his soul to the devil.!!! Geeze how obviously “transparent” can one GET. Does he get a kick back for being a “recruiter”, now?? Pathetic, truly pathetic.

    • Ben Hutchins

      Not sure if serious, as the young persons say nowadays.

    • Anonymous

      Albert LePage, not the Governor.

  • Anonymous

    Non profit should be non profit. If someone is making money, it is for profit. Does a preacher work for free? No. So the church is there for his profit. Do people get paid to work at the good shepherd food bank? Yes. Then it should be a for profit business. If a non profit organization can pay their top executives $100,000 or more per year, then they can afford to pay property taxes. Just think of Bangor alone. How many nonprofit organizations are not paying property taxes?

    • Anonymous

      Right on!

    • Ben Hutchins

      That’s an interesting idea of what “profit” means you have there. It’s not actually correct, since profit means the money a company makes above its operating expenses, which naturally include the pay employees receive, but it’s interesting.

    • Anonymous

      Non-profit applies to the organization, not any employee.

    • Anonymous

      You have no idea what “profit” means. Profit is what you have after you pay your bills and workers.

      • Anonymous

        and many non profits like Maine Hertitage Center and Freedom Works and Crossroads( and newt’s “non profit”) pay high salaries so there will be NO ‘profit”.

    • Anonymous

      By your definition of non-profit, there are no non-profits, since almost every entity has employees.
      I think you have to rethink things a bit.

  • Anonymous

    ALL institutions that make a PROFIT and OWN property should pay property taxes. The Catholic Church makes millions in profit and own property. They SHOULD pay property tax. Same for all churches…..

    • Anonymous

      Right on again!

    • Anonymous

      yes

    • Anonymous

      Whether “incidental” or not, how can an annual $137,000 income from facilities rental in the face of an annual budget of $14,000,000 be thought of as a profit? According to Hebron Academy, income from arena rental isa about 10% of annual operating costs, and no where in this article is it stated that the rental income is over and above what it costs to keep the school operating. Where is the profit?

      As for property taxes on certain facilities as opposed to non-taxation of others owned by non-profits, that’s a matter of definitions, something both sides will pay plenty of money to attorneys in hopes the court agrees with their point of view. It’s certain that non-profits of all types have interest in these arguments. Because the values of non-profits to society run a wide range, it is a an important argument for sure, and far from a simple one.

      • Anonymous

        “Whether “incidental” or not, how can an annual $137,000 income from
        facilities rental in the face of an annual budget of $14,000,000 be
        thought of as a profit?” They are only be taxed $13,000

    • Anonymous

      If you want to change that, you would have to rewrite the First Amendment.

      • Anonymous

        Where does it say in the First Amendment that churches are exempt from paying taxes? Using your logic, newspapers, television stations, magazines, publishers — all would be exempt from paying taxes.

        • Anonymous

          The First Amendment says Congress (government), shall establish no religion or impede religions. Taxation could, depending on the level, be considered an impediment.
          Also, note that the First Amendment contains instructions for Congress to control and contain their own actions. The First Amendment does NOT offer any language that controls individuals or churches. That is, the First Amendment is a one way street, blocking government from doing certain things, but not blocking individuals or churches.
          You may not like it (not sure I like it), but that’s the way it’s currently written. Don’t like it? Change it/amend it.

          • Anonymous

            You didn’t address taxation on media. Heck, using the logic you’re both using, it should be unconstitutional for the government to put a sales tax on paper, ink, computers, pens, pencils, telephones, CDs, DVDs, telephone service, etc. All of these items are directly involved in freedom of speech, which the First Amendment states cannot be abridged.
            A tax on church property in no way prohibits the exercise of religion. The fact that churches have tax-exempt status, at the federal level, at least, has more to do with courtesy by Congress than any creative interpretation of the First Amendment.
            In Walz v. Commission of City of New York , 397 U.S. 664 (1970), in which Walz argued the opposite of what you’re arguing — that tax exemption unconstitutionally favors churches — the U.S. Supreme Court said: “The legislative purpose of a property tax exemption is neither the advancement nor the INHIBITION of religion; it is neither sponsorship nor HOSTILITY (emphasis added).”
            Put another way by the First Amendment Center in summarizing Walz: “The Supreme Court has made clear that a tax exemption is neither prohibited nor required under the First Amendment’s free-exercise and establishment clauses. The Walz Court said that the long history of tax exemption for religious organizations in no way creates an entitlement to any such exemption.”
            Churches do not enjoy any more free speech rights than this very newspaper. The sole reason churches get tax exempt status is because the government considers them part of a “benevolent” network of organizations. such as certain nonprofits, that enhance the community.

          • Anonymous

            is hebron academy a religious school??? Not that i know of ,making the connection to the first ammendment irrelevent.

  • nursingmainer

    When the price for ONE student to attend Hebron Academy (for one year) exceeds that of this tax bill, somehow I think they could afford it.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see where it says non profit. If they make money they pay.

    • Anonymous

      You can make a lot of money with a non-profit…..Sesame Street is a non-profit; but has spawned many for-profit subsidiaries like that Ice show in Portland that make tons of money. Big Environmental trusts seem to have a lot of money for retreats and other facilities; I’ve noted the Crystal Springs Farm, a non-profit, competes with a lot of local farms but is spared tax liabilities. Not fair, time they pay up like every one else.

      • Anonymous

        You going to throw Common Ground Fair into that list?

  • Anonymous

    All entities INCLUDING non-profits, religious, and government, should pay property taxes. Does the town have to respond if there is a fire on this property? Does the town dump take the trash? Does the town pave any roads that the school uses to conduct business?

    I have never understood why some entities feel entitled to ride on my dime.

    • Ben Hutchins

      The rationale has generally been that those organizations provide services to the community which offset the services the community provides to them, making the assessment and collection of property taxes upon them both discourteous and not worth the effort. Whether this is in fact the case is a matter of much, much debate, and I am taking no position on it here; but that’s the reasoning behind it.

      (Also, taxing government buildings wouldn’t really make a ton of sense, would it? The government would be paying itself. Apart from complicating the state accountant’s life, what would that accomplish?)

  • Anonymous

    The National Football League is a non-profit organization. Roger Goodell collects a salary.

    • Anonymous

      So is Planned Parenthood, yet they can mount political campaigns that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If they have that much money, they should be paying taxes. ditto for the Unions.

      • Anonymous

        and Maine Heritage center ( check out THEIR salaries) Freedom works check out DICK army’s salary), Cross roads ( Karl Rove is doing it for the SALARY)

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely! These are profit-making enterprises and should pay taxes!

  • FELT

    This is a drop in the bucket when compared to the holdings of Bowdoin, Bates, and Colby and their many ‘profit centers’ which are melding into the books. The court decision should affect their rentals; but does the town have the cojones to tax these wealthy colleges at the same rate the rest of us have to pay.

    Other non-profits have valuable holdings, esp. environmental trusts and political action organizations.

    • Anonymous

      every drop counts

  • Anonymous

    ” the school rents out several facilities, including the Lepage Center for the Arts” … the Lepage Center??? Anyone know the connection to this name??

    • Ben Hutchins

      It’s not spelled with a capital P on the school’s website or anywhere else I’ve seen it listed. I’m guessing it’s coincidental. LePage/Lepage/Le Page/etc. isn’t a particularly uncommon name.

  • yanquilove

    Hebron Academy is a non-profit organization. The purpose of the Academy is to educate our youth, not to make money. The money made on the ice rink is used to offset the cost of operating the facility. How does the City of Portland offset the cost of operating the pool at Reiche School? It rents it to the public.

    If you looked at the 2011 tax return, you might all realize the simple fact that – HEBRON ACADEMY ISN’T MAKING MONEY.

    Revenue

    Total Revenue

    $13,628,241

    Expenses

    Total Expenses

    $13,575,377

    What I sense from the town is a general sentiment of classism rather than concern for fair taxation.

    • Anonymous

      Many times I have spent more than I have made, does that make my household non profit?? Figures can be rigged many ways to sail a sloop.

Similar Articles