PA Supreme Court: Sweet Stevens Prevails in Tax Appeal Suit for Phoenixville School District
New Britain, PA – The Phoenixville Area School District, represented by Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams LLP, can keep nearly $5 million in property tax payments made by the nonprofit Tower Health, according to a ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The court denied an appeal for property tax exemptions for Phoenixville Hospital and other entities owned by Tower Health, stating that the facilities failed to operate “free of private profit motives.” The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court had previously ruled in February of 2023 that three Tower hospitals are not eligible for property tax exemptions even though their owner has nonprofit status because the hospitals did not provide enough free services and were too intertwined with for-profit physician practices.
As funding for school districts primarily comes from local tax and state revenue, the school district declared it a victory for their students and the community. Howard L. Kelin of Sweet Stevens represented the district, noting, “it is common sense that if you act like a for-profit business, you should not be rewarded with a charitable tax exemption.”
Serving as Of Counsel to the firm, Kelin brings extensive experience in commercial litigation, education law, and tax appeals, frequently opposing attorneys from much larger law firms. Sweet Stevens has a successful track record in its tax appeal practice, representing municipalities and school entities. The firm files appeals to secure increases in assessments, challenges assessments to ensure they adequately represent a taxpayer’s responsibility, and defends assessments when necessary.
The particular appeal at the center of this litigation involved the years 2018-19 through 2022-23; a new appeal has begun for Tower for the 2023-24 years, with Sweet Stevens continuing to represent the district.
Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams, LLP was formed in 1995 by nine experienced education lawyers who created the first private law practice in Pennsylvania dedicated entirely to Education Law. Since then, the firm has grown to 24 attorneys who represent over 290 school and municipal entities as Solicitors or as Special Counsel in more than 50 counties throughout Pennsylvania.