Hospitals to reap millions in taxpayer refunds

A change in the tax code could mean a windfall of tens of millions of dollars for hospitals in Washington state, but that money would have to be recouped from the taxpayers, report The Longview Daily News.

The change--which exempts outpatient clinics from property taxes--comes from a variety of court rulings in Washington that date back to 2007. It began when Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center in the border town of Vancouver appealed its tax bill, claiming it provided charity care through all its patient facilities. State courts eventually upheld a tax exemption for the hospital's parent corporation, Legacy Health. The state's Department of Tax Revenue revised its code in 2009 to exempt outpatient facilities, and was flooded with requests for exemptions. It also agreed to make the exemptions retroactive to 2007.

That meant local taxing authorities owed providers those property taxes it had already paid. In one case, PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview is owed $1.6 million from four local agencies, including the school district.

"We actually believe this is the right decision," said Sarah Cave, PeaceHealth's regional vice president of strategy and development for PeaceHealth, in the artcle . "It is unfortunate it all hit at once and it was a large sum."

To learn more:
- read The Longview Daily News article