"New York Lawmakers Tee Up Tax Bill That Takes a Swing at Golf Courses"

Thanks to all who sent Keiko Morris’ Wall Street Journal story on a New York bill to give local governments the option to assess and tax golf courses based on “highest and best use”. Morris suggests the bill could be the undoing of many golf courses.

Business owners and industry representatives fear the measure would usher in tax hikes for many facilities, prompt closures of courses and hurt local tourism and hospitality markets at a time when the sport faces stiff competition to gain more fans.

“Home builders are watering at the mouth at a lot of golf course land and would pay 10 times what it’s worth as a golf course,” said Jay Karen, chief executive of the National Golf Course Owners Association. “If all of the sudden we saw tax bills at golf courses increasing by a factor of 10, you are going to see an acceleration of golf course closures.”

The bill’s Democratic sponsors, Sen. David Carlucci and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, and proponents say it is about golf courses, especially country clubs with high-end amenities, paying their fair share of taxes.

The bill may have been inspired in part by fights with the Town of Ossining’s valuation of Trump National Westchester ($14 milion) vs. the Trump organization’s estimate (10 percent of that). The club was valued at over $50 million by President Trump in federal financial disclosure filings.

The other course feuding with Ossining is Sleepy Hollow. The club’s attorney says its market value is $20. That’s twenty, as in 2-0.