Council at-large candidate would impose yearly tax on college students

One of the eight candidates running for an at-large position on the Boston City Council this November has devised a plan to impose a $125 per year tax for each student attending a Boston college or university. Matt O'Malley said the fees would help offset the 53 percent of tax-exempt real estate in the city.

Property is not taxed when it belongs to an organization that is non-profit or service-based, such as educational facilities, according to Tim McGourthy, director of policy at the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA).

While some of these institutions, including Boston University (BU), make monetary contributions to the city through the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program (PILOT), others do not, O'Malley said.

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McGourthy said PILOTs are paid as "an agreement made between the city and an institution to offset costs that the city shoulders."

Large colleges or universities with expanding properties, such as BU and Boston College (BC), are more apt to pay into this program because they often have a higher impact on community resources, McGourthy said.