Nonprofit leaders need to be wise stewards of their property and attentive to the accompanying financial responsibilities.  Our real estate clients include religious institutions, schools, social service providers, economic development organizations, youth organizations, and sports facilities.  

  • State property tax exemptions and refunds
    • Many of our nonprofit clients own property and may be eligible for exemptions from state property taxes.  Our attorneys regularly develop property tax exemption applications, providing critical information about each client’s qualified ownership status, property usage in compliance with applicable law, and other aspects as needed for exemption approval.  We keep close in mind the high state legal standard, namely to prove qualification by “clear and convincing evidence” and “with all debatable facts resolved against tax exemption,” so that our clients can successfully obtain government approval.   As part of these property tax exemption services, we assist clients with administrative appeals from initial denial of property tax exemption as well as with tax refunds after exemption approval.  These exemption-related benefits typically result in significant cost savings for our property-owning clients.
  • Property usage opinions
    • How a property is actually used is a key to obtaining and maintaining property tax exemption, as the property must be used for specific exempt purposes in order to qualify for exemption.  Our attorneys are available to provide informal and formal legal opinions regarding whether a particular proposed use of a property will jeopardize an organization’s valuable property tax exemption.
  • Department of Revenue appeals
    • A property tax exemption application may be denied initially for a variety of reasons, sometimes through well intentioned but uninformed lay persons’ efforts or even those of pro bono legal counsel who do not regularly practice in this area.  Our attorneys assist with the appeal process, through negotiating with the Illinois Department of Revenue to seek a favorable resolution and proceeding to evidentiary hearings when necessary.  We are available as well to pursue additional tax exemption relief through further appeals, to promote our clients’ interests under applicable state tax exemption law.
  • Real estate purchases, sales, and financing
    • Our attorneys are available to assist clients with real estate purchases, sales, and financing arrangements.  We provide counsel at the initial stages of contract negotiation and onward through closings.  We work regularly with brokers, title companies, lenders, and others involved in each real estate transaction to promote our clients’ interests within the context of their goals and needs.
  • Leases and other space-sharing agreements
    • Our attorneys draft or review leases for our nonprofit clients to ensure legal compliance and protect our clients’ interests to the fullest extent.  We also draft facility use agreements or space-sharing agreements between nonprofits that seek to share facilities, protect their property tax exemption, allocate property-related rights and responsibilities, and otherwise promote good stewardship. 
  • Risk management issues
    • Property ownership can involve significant risk.  We work with our clients to manage risks, through appropriate insurance coverage, identification of potential problems, and organizational structures that may be helpful for shifting risks.
  • Administrative and compliance
    • Nonprofit property owners take on the same building code and property usage compliance burdens as other, for-profit entities.  When municipalities cite exempt organizations for non-compliance, the organizations may be subject to substantial fines and other penalties for failure to meet these often complex and obtuse regulatory standards. We frequently represent nonprofit entities in administrative and other judicial proceedings to mitigate liability arising under diverse municipal codes and related regulations.