Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County in case of In Re: Appeal of Pennsylvania Easter Seal Society from real estate taxation assessment, No. 4313 of 1980.
Betty F. Perry, Killian & Gephart, for appellant.
Herbert A. Schaffner, Reynolds, Bihl and Schaffner, for appellee.
Judges Blatt, Williams, Jr. and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Mencer did not participate in the decision in this case. Judge Williams dissents.
The appellant, the Pennsylvania Easter Seal Society, appeals a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County holding that a mobile home located on the appellant's property is not entitled to an exemption from real estate taxes under Section 202 of the Fourth to Eighth Class County Assessment Law, Act of May 21, 1943, P.L. 571, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5453.202.
The appellant owns property on which are situated its headquarters building, a number of other structures
and the mobile home here in question. The mobile home is used to provide rent-free accommodations to a custodian and to her husband who is disabled. She provides janitorial services for all of the buildings. The appellant assigns a rental value for the housing provided in order to determine the amount of FICA taxes to be paid for the custodian's Social Security benefits. The County of Dauphin (County) concedes that the appellant is a tax-exempt organization under 72 P.S. § 5453.202 and that its property and other buildings were not subject to real estate taxes, but it assessed $35 for taxes on the mobile home for the year 1980. The appellant appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals of Dauphin County and then to the court of common pleas, which found that the mobile home was not necessary to or actually used for the appellant's principal charitable purposes and that the exemption therefore did not apply. Exceptions to that decision were filed and dismissed and this appeal followed.
The appellant contends that the purpose of maintaining the mobile home on the premises was so that the custodian could provide 24-hour property protection, that such an interest is directly related to the charitable purposes pursued by the appellant and that the court below erred by concluding that the mobile home was merely a convenience for the custodian and that the property protection provided was of only incidental interest to the appellant.
The Pennsylvania Constitution provides:
(a) The General Assembly may by law exempt from taxation:
(v) Institutions of purely public charity, but in the case of any real property tax exemptions only that ...