BU's a lot different than Northeastern
At least, when it comes to reimbursing Boston for city services.
A new report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge looks at "payments in lieu of taxes" negotiated between some municipalities and their non-profit, non-property-tax paying landowners. Boston collects more of these payments than any other city in the country (and Massachusetts has much more cities collecting them than any other state), but because they're negotiated separately, the amount each local institution pays varies considerably.
The money shot of the report, at least for Bostonians, is a chart (page 22, if you download a copy of the 4.5M PDF file) showing just how much local non-profits paid the city in 2009. At the very top is BU, which paid $4.89 million, followed by Harvard, at just a pinch under $2 million. Northeastern? It paid all of $30,571. Now, the total worth of BU's and Harvard's land holdings in Boston is more than that of Northeastern, but not that much more. The authors also look at how much in taxes the institutions would have to pay if they were for-profit concerns and what percentage of that amount the voluntary payments reflect: For BU, it's 8.5%, Harvard, 5% and Northeastern, 0.08%.