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Dove Lewis Memorial Emergency Veterinary Clinic, Inc. v. Department of Revenue

723 P.2d 320, 301 Or. 423 (1986)

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Dove Lewis Memorial Emergency Veterinary Clinic, Inc. v. Department of Revenue

Oregon Supreme Court

723 P.2d 320, 301 Or. 423 (1986)

Facts

The Dove Lewis Memorial Emergency Veterinarian Clinic (the clinic) (plaintiff) was a clinic in Portland, Oregon, that provided emergency care to small animals. The clinic had nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service and was exempt from federal income tax. The clinic was founded by a group of veterinarians in 1974. Though it continued to receive donations, the clinic relied on fees it charged its customers according to a fee schedule. The clinic offered free services to those who could not afford to pay for their pet’s care but did not advertise the free services or have a separate charitable trust set aside for needy customers. The clinic operated at night and employed 15 employees, including five veterinarians. All five of its veterinarians were members of the Portland Veterinary Medical Association (the association). Because the clinic only offered emergency care, if an animal came in with nonemergency problems, the clinic would refer the owner to local veterinarians, including members of the association. The clinic purchased property in 1981 with funds from its operating revenue, donations, and a loan from a bank. The clinic applied for a charitable property-tax exemption as a nonprofit hospital. Multnomah County denied the clinic’s application for a property-tax exemption. The Oregon Department of Revenue (the department) affirmed the county’s denial of the clinic’s application. The clinic filed a lawsuit in state court, and the Oregon Tax Court affirmed the department. The clinic appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gillette, J.)

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