Two years ago we provided a property tax exemption in Ohio law for veterans and fraternals but bureaucrats in the tax department failed to recognize space used by such organizations for the not-for-profit service of the organizational members.
In this biennial budget which we passed in June we included a provision that further outlines the intention of the legislature to provide that exemption to the space dedicated to not-for-profit educational and health related work of the veterans and fraternals for health and education purposes.
An example of space used for not-for-profit work by a fraternal organization is masonic learning centers. These learning centers take place in masonic halls and have accomplished incredible feats in helping local children overcome dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a processing disorder that results in difficulties reading and writing. One in five people suffer from the disorder, and the masonic learning centers have had the best results overcoming it, even trumping our education system. These centers though were still being taxed unjustly up until recently.
Locally we have an example of this issue in Dayton where our local masonic learning center is operated in the building that has been classified as tax exempt aside from the portion with the learning center. This location was established in 1999 and belongs to a family of tutoring centers ran by a not-for-profit organization Learning Centers for Children INC. Since its opening the center has graduated 270 students and assisted an estimated 380.
Although the center has yielded great results more than 70 western Ohio kids sit on a waiting list of up to 2.5 years today. This alarming fact makes the need for a break on property taxes even more crucial as that money could go to helping more students in our communities who struggle with dyslexia.
Under this new law, real estate held or occupied by a fraternal organization and used primarily for meetings of and the administration of the fraternal organization or for the providing, on a not-for-profit basis, educational or health services shall not have property tax. This new measure intends to help the not for profits re-invest that money into better services for those in need.
It is important to treat groups and organizations that do so much for our community justly. Making this adjustment in the Ohio Revised Code is common sense governing.
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Rep. Jim Buchy can be reached by emailing [email protected] or calling 614-446-6344. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.