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Thursday
Jan312013

"Taxes May Rise If Golf Courses Get Tax Break"

Claudia Lenart reports on an appeal by historic Onwentsia Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois, where country club land "would be granted open space status and therefore would receive a zero assessment."

Lenart focuses on the likely tax rise for residents should the appeal succeed:

Because the Park Ridge Country Club has a private golf course, Park Ridge taxpayers would likely have to pay more into the tax coffers if the country club stops contributing.

In the Barrington-Lake Zurich area, home to numerous golf courses and country clubs, Ela Township Assessor John Barrington said Ela Township has all or part of seven golf courses that pay over $250,000 in taxes that would be shouldered by residents.

“Somebody will have to pick up this money. It doesn’t go away; it just gets redistributed,” Barrington said.

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Reader Comments (8)

I'm sure the residents'll love that. Possible small exodus. Well, maybe not. Townhall fury then.
01.31.2013 | Unregistered CommenterUhh....
$0.00 of debt on the balance sheet.

Knew there was a reason I really liked that place the one time I visited...other than the terrific golf course that is ;0)

Home of the 1906 US Open won by Alex Smith.
01.31.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
If there is anything that will get the USGA to act on rolling back the ball and equipment, this will be it. How many golfclubs having to pay larger and larger sums PER ACRE OF LAND in taxes before someone realizes this will lead to many more club & course closings?
02.1.2013 | Unregistered Commenterphil the author
Another sorry example of FIB on FIB crime running amok.
02.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBuckyBadger
phil, the problem with your thesis is what's being proposed would do the opposite, it would relieve the clubs of their current tax burden which is already relatively small.
02.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
This is usually a case that the private golf course land was never given a proper tax category. The solution of no taxes in UNFAIR to the citizens in the community . The proper solution is creating a new tax category legislatively and the golf courses CONTINUING to pay the current taxes that are currently being appealed. The land is not OPEN SPACE liked a park/farm sold to the community that then has public benefit. There is no plan for public play on this private course so why the special tax break?

An amazing story from a similiar issue in NYC. The only private golf course in the confines of the five boroughs of New York City is the Richmond County Country Club in Staten Island, NY. Great old track with roots of one of the nines dating back to 1894. In the late 1980s/early 1990s NYC detemined that golf course was not paying proper real estate taxes (they were low already). Somehow the argument was that if prevailing real estate taxes were invoked (the surrounding area is one of the welathiest in NYC) the golf course would go out of business and cease to exist. Of course this was never a real option. The proper solution was to create a special category for this land because no proper category existed in NYC for a similiar parcel and have the golf course continue to PAY taxes (remember much lower than surround extremely valuable land) and share the burden with all ciitizens.

The UNBELIEVEABLE solution was the course gave a small parcel of land (4-5 acres) for public use and now has a ZERO TAX BURDEN the next 99 years. This small parcel is attached to a 1000+ acre public park that is already remote. You have to hike two miles just to reach the small piece of land. Like adding a needle to a haystack. I do admit that the view from this point is gorgeuos, one of the highest points on the East Coast with a wonderful view of the Atlantic and the entire New Jersey shoreline. The issue - no one knows this parcel exists (it may as well be private) and too much (99 years of tax payments to the public coffers) was given up for its existence. I heard that the course lowered the member dues after the deal because they no longer had to pay any real estate taxes.

In 99 years the course is supposed to revert to the public. Since we will all be dead when that time occurs I am sure some quiet/sweetheart deal will be struck in year 85 to keep the land private. I will go to my grave (with about 30 years remaining on the 99 year deal) demanding that NYC citizens remember the deal and have it honored for public benefit.

I am sure ALEC is pushing the Illinois challenges because those with all the advantages must accentuate them even more even if the result is unfair, against logic and against the public interest. The attitude that selfishness must be pursued at all costs because we can not because it is right used to be universally condemned. Now it is a lobbying technique and accepted practice.

Is anyone else familair with this NYC deal? Please chime in and correct me if necessary. Having the proper facts matters. I want to present a correct picture, but my overwhelming hunch is the deal is unlikely to be honored when everyone who could remember is dead.
02.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephenP
StephenP, the club you mention is a non-profit and as such the public has the right to inspect certain of their records. One thing you can do from your keyboard is type "990 finder" into a google browser and click on that first link that comes up. Type the name of the club in and it will bring up the tax returns that have been filed. However, the returns listed on this site usually only go back to 2004.

If you are really serious about it maybe you could get a legal opinion on possibly digging into their records further back. Having said that, after perusing their 2010 form-990 and looking at the names on the list board members, me personally I would not do that...capiche ;0)

PS...by all appearances this club is exceptionally well run. Highly profitable, inconsequential debt, etc...
02.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
DTF, thanks for the valuable website for looking up non profits tax filings. You are an invaluable resource on this site and I have admired many of your posts.

Just trying to protect the public interest and the commons, two things which are given away everyday. I know this a trivial matter in the scope of more important things, but when I see another tax avoidance possibility I felt personally insulted/impacted (used to live in Staten Island) and this long ago story popped back into my mind.
02.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephenP

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