Court called to decide the scope of the “charitable use” exemption for local property taxation
Paul M. Elias, Esq. begins his oral argument at 41:54 and concludes with a rebuttal at 1:59:40
Paul M. Elias, Esq., with the assistance of Jason L. Bittiger, Esq. on the brief, argued the cause for the Borough of Fairview before the Supreme Court of New Jersey in the matter Advance Housing v. Teaneck, et al., on January 15, 2013.
Mr. Elias argued that the “charitable use” exemption was inapplicable because the “actual use” of the property was not primarily based on providing counseling and supportive services for disabled individuals. Mr. Elias contended that the counseling services provided by Advance Housing were incidental to the primary purpose of housing people with mental disabilities because the government-subsidized housing controlled all decisions made with the property. In this regard, Mr. Elias points out that potential tenants must qualify under Federal and State subsidized housing standards to reside in one of Advance Housing’s properties. If one of these potential tenants did not meet the subsidized housing standard, then that tenant would be denied housing, even though that tenant suffers from mental illness and needs support services. Mr. Elias argued that the denial of supportive housing and services to this potential tenant merely because he did not qualify under Federal and State subsidized housing standards demonstrates that the primary use of the property is housing, and providing counseling services for individuals suffering from mental illness are secondary.
The Supreme Court narrowly framed the issue to whether a non-profit organization’s provision of housing and supportive services to the mentally disabled can qualify an organization for tax-exempt status. Although the Supreme Court answered this question in the affirmative, the Court recognized the merit of Mr. Elias’s argument.