Approved state bill would give Norwich nonprofits reprieve in tax-exempt filing deadline

Norwich — A bill passed by the General Assembly at the end of the session would give a reprieve to about 18 Norwich nonprofit agencies that failed to meet a state deadline for filing paperwork to retain their property tax-exempt status.

The bill, approved earlier in the week by the House and by the Senate on Wednesday during the last day of the session, allows any Norwich nonprofit that received tax-exempt status in the 2016 city grand list of properties but failed to file paperwork required every four years by state law on Nov. 1, 2017, to have a filing extension to Aug. 1.

Qualifying nonprofits would have to pay the $30 late filing fee, and if the city assessor verifies the exemption eligibility, tax exempt status would be restored.

Norwich Assessor Donna Ralston denied about three dozen nonprofit organizations property tax exemption this spring, including about 18 that failed to meet the state law filing deadline. One of the city’s largest nonprofits, United Community and Family Services, was denied for failing to file by the deadline. UCFS, a regional medical, behavioral health and human services agency, owns five properties with a total assessed value of $4.37 million.

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, and state Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, whose districts include Norwich, put the language forward at the request of UCFS, they said. Osten said manufacturing plants that receive exemptions for certain equipment already have filing extensions allowed in state law, so the extension for nonprofits was reasonable.

UCFS President and CEO Jennifer Granger could not be reached to comment Thursday.

“This will help half the organizations, and we’re working on the other half,” said Wendy Bury, executive director of the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition.

The coalition, The Alliance: Voice of Community Nonprofits and the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut are co-sponsoring a public forum for nonprofits and the public at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 21, to explain state laws and tax-exempt practices by cities and towns in Connecticut. The forum is free and open to the public, but registration is required and available online at www.CultureSECT.org.

Bury said the new bill will be added to the discussion.

Ralston has said she had no choice but to deny the agencies that failed to file paperwork for tax-exempt status. She said the bill would help some of those entities.

“This amendment is a very fair way to deal with what was a very unfortunate situation,” Ralston said.

But Ralston also decided to reject numerous other long-time Norwich nonprofits that did file paperwork, including Reliance Health, Norwich Arts Center and Norwich Community Development Corp., along with newer smaller entities, such as the cultural coalition, which rents a small office at NCDC’s Foundry 66 facility, and Friends of Maria, which runs a charity thrift store in Taftville.

c.bessette@theday.com

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments