Loudoun supervisors voted Wednesday to give three nonprofits a break on county taxes.
In total, the county will forego about $45,000 in tax revenue from Loudoun Hunger Relief, Loudoun Soccer, and Tree of Life Ministries, said Commissioner of the Revenue Robert S. Wertz Jr.
Two supervisors, Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) and Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge), worried about the way the county provides relief to nonprofits. Both abstained from voting, and Letourneau said the county is approaching a half penny on everyone else’s tax rate by giving up a total of $4.87 million in fiscal year 2017 tax revenue through nonprofit tax relief. He said the county needs better established standards for tax relief.
“This is purely the board’s discretion, so if we like a nonprofit, we give them the exemption, and if we don’t, then we don’t,” Letourneau said. “And I think someday that will get us in trouble, because we will get applications from nonprofits that board members will disagree with for some reason or other, and decide not to give an exemption for, or board members will be forced to give an exemption to an organization that they wish they didn’t have to.”
Letourneau said he favors the county’s other process for giving aid to nonprofits. In this year’s budget, the county provided grants totaling more than a million dollars in funding for nonprofits.
Other board members disagreed.
“There are a number of nonprofits who I believe step in in the place of government at all levels and carry burdens that the taxpayers, because of nonprofit generosity, don’t have to carry,” said Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg).
County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) agreed that clear policies around tax exemptions could be helpful, but said the county is not picking nonprofits.
“To say that it’s who we like and who we don’t like, it sounds like we’re cherry-picking in a way that we’re not cherry-picking,” Randall said. “In fact, we pretty much do everyone. Maybe we should talk about, in this cycle, do we want to have standards and what do those look like.”
The board voted 7-0-2 to grant tax relief to the three nonprofits, Letourneau and Buffington abstaining.
Loudoun Hunger Relief is Loudoun’s largest food pantry, collecting and distributing food to needy people and families in the county. The tax exemption will total $1,296.75 in property and real estate taxes. Previously, county documents incorrectly reported real property taxes on the organization; Loudoun Hunger Relief does not own real property in the county, but has requested the exemption in case it purchases property in the future.
Loudoun Hunger Relief received $47,237 in grant funding in this year’s county budget, and reported $3,289,691 in contributions and grant funding in its 2014 federal tax return.
According to its application, Loudoun Soccer has more than 15,000 players and 2,000 coaches. It would be exempt from $42,661.15 in property and real estate taxes, mostly real estate. It reported $42,772 in contributions and grants and $4,584,334 in program revenues in its 2014 federal tax return.
Tree of Life Ministries, which provides food, shelter and health care to low-income families, would be exempt from $180.03 in property taxes. Its 2014 federal tax return shows $705,050 in grants and contributions.