The Norman Transcript

Columns

August 26, 2013

Private colleges should pay taxes

NORMAN — Private colleges and universities haven’t lost their property tax-exempt status – yet. But it shouldn’t surprise anybody, least of all those running those institutions, if they do sometime during the next few years. And they will have only themselves to blame.

Even the little game they play with local officials — making a “voluntary” payment in lieu of taxes every year — isn’t going to work, since that generally amounts to 25 percent or less of what they would owe if their property was taxable.

I’ve openly mocked this arrangement for decades: if a class of property is legally tax exempt, then its owners shouldn’t have to submit to a shakedown from local officials to “donate” even a percentage of the money instead. If they should not be tax exempt, change the law.

And this is not to endorse the arguments of city and town officials – that they need this money because of all the fabulous services they are supplying to the institutions. They have presumably been providing those services for the nearly 100 years that educational institutions have been tax exempt.

The reason they “need” the money is because they long ago gave away the store to the public employee unions, giving them lavish, unsustainable benefits including early retirement and pension packages vastly more generous than most of those who pay the bill receive.

Still, the argument of colleges and universities that they are “nonprofit” is wearing very thin, thanks to their own greed — raising pay and benefits for administrators and tenured faculty while sucking ever more money from students that in increasing measure comes from government grants and loans.

One of the latest dustups over this is in Princeton, New Jersey, where residents have sued to overturn the tax-exempt status of their local Ivy League university.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Hero of Haarlem … for common good

    “Trudging stoutly along by the canal,” as the story goes, the 8-year-old son of a Dutch sluicer was returning home from delivering cakes to a blind man. Humming as he passed the dikes, he noticed that recent rains had made his father’s job ...

    April 22, 2014

  • Hate without end

    The news that a former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan is suspected of shooting and killing three people near Jewish community centers in Kansas seems at first glance like a disparaged past flaring briefly into the present. Americans like ...

    April 21, 2014

  • Don’t let moderation confuse you

    Jeb Bush’s recent compassionate comments on immigration show how far apart he is from the far right of the Republican Party....

    April 20, 2014

  • Priest’s execution should spur action

    In the hierarchy of saints, martyrs are on the highest rung of the celestial ladder, at least for me....

    April 20, 2014

  • Settlers found opportunities in red dirt fields

    There are few constants in families where the teenagers and soon-to-be teenagers outnumber their parents. One things holds true at my home: Nobody gets out of bed in the morning before dear old Dad....

    April 20, 2014

  • NRA members need to step up

    Please, Mr. Bloomberg, leave the checkbook open, but step away from the podium. Your efforts to curb gun violence and improve safety are notable. The National Rifle Association thanks you....

    April 19, 2014

  • First, do no harm — to your bank account

    After being sued by the Wall Street Journal, the government finally released its Medicare reimbursement data last week. It included the less-than-stunning revelation that 28 of the 100 doctors who received the largest payments in 2012 were ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Reading between the lines

    Reading is such an improbable idea — a miracle, really. Yet simple squiggles on a page, arranged just so, can convey ideas that change the way we think or introduce to us characters we love for a lifetime. In celebration of reading — and ...

    April 15, 2014

  • CCFI tackling area’s child abuse problem

    Editor, The Transcript: To those of you who are reading this editorial, I assume you care or at least are entertained by the opinions of others. It is my hope and desire that when you read this editorial, you will care about the facts. ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Does Oklahoma need advice from Texas?

    Does Texas have a lock on “brilliant minds”? The names of Texans like Congressman Louie Gomert, Sen. Ted Cruz and that other guy ... I can’t think of his name ... oh yeah, Rick Perry come to mind very quickly. Add to that infamous list ...

    April 12, 2014