CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cook County Assessor’s Office is trying to collect property taxes from Prentice Women’s Hospital at Northwestern, as a dispute continues over the tax-exempt status of hospitals in Illinois.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, Crain’s Chicago Business says county Assessor Joseph Berrios sent notices to Northwestern Memorial HealthCare last month that could mean a $66 million tax bill covering four years.

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LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports

In August, the Illinois Department of Revenue denied an application by Northwestern for tax exempt status for Prentice, located at 205 E. Superior St. in the Streeterville neighborhood. Edward Hospital in Naperville and Decatur Memorial Hospital were also denied tax exemptions, after state officials concluded the facilities were operating more like businesses than charities.

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The Illinois Constitution exempts any places used exclusively for charitable purposes from paying property tax. But the Illinois Department of Revenue said that the three hospitals weren’t doing enough free or discounted treatment of the poor to qualify for the exemption.

Assessor’s office spokeswoman Kelley Quinn told The Associated Press that the first appeal of the decision by Northwestern has been denied. She says Northwestern has until Saturday to file a second request for review.

Hospital spokeswoman Kris Lathan said Northwestern has never paid property taxes on its properties used for inpatient care. She adds Northwestern hopes a legislative solution can be reached that will define standards for tax exemptions, clearing up questions left by a 2010 Illinois Supreme Court ruling.

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