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    Entries in property tax (2)


    The Week in Public Finance: Defending Wall Street Fees, Ranking Property Tax Rates and More

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  JUNE 17, 2016

    Defending Wall Street Fees

    The performance fees that public pension plans pay private equity and hedge fund managers are coming under scrutiny. Some say the high fees aren’t worth the returns on investment and complain that many costs remain hidden. Those two points were part of a critical report last month by the right-leaning Maryland Public Policy Institute on Maryland’s hidden Wall Street fees.

    Now, the Maryland State Retirement Agency has issued a lengthy response questioning the institute’s conclusions. In a letter published this month by Executive Director R. Dean Kenderdine and Chief Investment Officer Andrew C. Palmer, the system’s officials attack the institute’s methodology while defending its own financials.

    Maryland reported paying $85 million in performance fees in 2014, but according to the report it may have actually paid more than $250 million. The policy institute made that estimate by comparing Maryland’s disclosed performance fee rate against the rate of performance fees disclosed by New Jersey, which has a similarly sized alternative investment portfolio and fairly comprehensive fee disclosure policy.

    But Kenderdine and Palmer say Maryland's $85 million in reported fees are accurate because New Jersey has been “much more aggressive in its pacing of investments.” In other words, the private equity funds New Jersey invests in are designed to start producing returns soon after the pension puts money in the fund. Maryland’s private equity funds, however, haven’t hit that so-called harvesting period when investments are sold and managers receive performance fees from that profit, said Kenderdine and Palmer. So the performance fees are smaller but could theoretically be larger in the coming years.

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    Nonprofits' Tax-Exemption Battle Moves to the Courts

    Legislative attempts to tax nonprofits have fallen short. But recent legal challenges could present a financial problem for nonprofits and a financial boost for governments.
    BY  JUNE 2, 2016

    Faced with tight budgets and in search of new sources of revenue, municipalities increasingly have been eyeing the tax-exempt status of nonprofits. Legislators say that universities' record-high endowments and the corporate-like structure of nonprofit hospitals is making it harder and harder to swallow giving these institutions a tax break.

    While many of the legislative attempts to start taxing nonprofits have failed, recent legal challenges have proved more promising. If the trend continues, it could present a financial problem for nonprofits and a financial boost for governments. So far, the focus of both legislation and legal action has been on hospitals and higher education institutions, but some worry they could spill over to smaller nonprofits and charities.

    The dollars at stake are significant. According to a 2009 study by the Congressional Research Service, property tax exemption is worth $17 to $32 billion nationwide.

    Also driving these challenges is the issue of tax fairness. Many nonprofits fork over an annual PILOT, or Payment In Lieu of Taxes, to help offset the governments' loss of revenue. But residents in the vicinity of hospitals or universities often feel that they still end up paying higher taxes to compensate for the revenue lost to nonprofits' exemptions.

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