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.