Which Universities Pay the Most to Localities?

October 1, 2012

A report Friday from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy explores changes in the payments colleges, universities and other tax-exempt institutions make to municipalities in lieu of taxes, finding that they are concentrated in the Northeast and focus primarily on higher education institutions, which account for two-thirds of all payments in lieu of taxes. In recent years, as municipalities have struggled with revenue constraints, they have turned to asking local higher education institutions to contribute to the municipal budgets, a request that has sometimes led to confrontations between city leaders and higher education institutions, particularly in Pittsburgh and Providence.

Notable among the report's findings is that the majority of all money given to municipalities through PILOT agreements comes from just 10 institutions, eight of which are universities or academic medical centers: Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University, Brown University, Boston University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Princeton University. The list suggests that municipalities target wealthy institutions, rather than those that are the biggest municipal burden or own the most land.

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