Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County in case of Wyoming Valley Montessori Association, Inc. v. Board of Assessment Appeals of Luzerne County, No. 5418 of 1985.
Ann H. Lokuta, for appellant.
David R. Lipka, for appellee.
Judges MacPhail and Palladino, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 460]
Wyoming Valley Montessori Association, Inc. (Appellant) has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County denying Appellant's request for tax-exempt status for property it owns in Kingston, Pennsylvania. We affirm.
Appellant, a non-profit corporation, operates a Montessori School which currently provides an educational program to 77 students ranging in age from preschool through fifth grade. The school, which has been in operation for sixteen years, purchased the property here at issue in 1984. Appellant presently employs six full-time and three part-time faculty members.
Appellant claims entitlement to tax-exempt status under Section 204(a)(3) of The General County Assessment Law (Law)*fn1 which provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 461]
The following property shall be exempt from all county, city, borough, town, township, road, poor and school tax, to wit:
(3) All hospitals, universities, colleges, seminaries, academies, associations and institutions of learning, benevolence, or charity . . . founded, endowed, and maintained by public or private charity. . . .
We observe that, in addition to the statutory requirements imposed by the Law, the legislative grant of tax-exempt status to charitable organizations is constitutionally limited to those organizations which qualify as "purely public charities." Pa. Const. art. VIII, § 2(a)(v); see Hospital Utilization Project v. Commonwealth, 507 Pa. 1, 487 A.2d 1306 (1985).
The common pleas court concluded, based on evidence adduced at a hearing, that Appellant does not qualify as a purely public charity. The court relied heavily on a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County which denied tax-exempt status to a similar Montessori School located in State College. See In Re: Tax Appeal of State College Children's House, Inc., 30 Pa. D. & C. 3d 570 (1984). The court also determined that Appellant had failed to present adequate evidence to support its assertion that the Board of Assessment Appeals of Luzerne County (Board) has acted in an arbitrary fashion in considering requests for tax-exempt status. Our scope of review in the instant matter is limited to a determination of whether the common pleas court decision ...