As the club’s lawyers petition to designate the entire property as open space to cut its tax liability, a bill in the state House aims to clearly define which parts of a golf course could be designated as “open.”
If legislation making its way through local government passes, property tax break sought by officials from Medinah Country Club would not be allowed, the Arlington Heights (Ill.)-based Daily Herald reported.
A bill already passed by the state Senate but undergoing several cosmetic changes in the House version would clearly define what parts of a golf course could be considered “open space,” the Daily Herald reported.
Officials at Medinah—host of the 2012 Ryder Cup—and operators of several other private golf courses throughout the suburbs are petitioning the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board to designate the entire property as open space, which would significantly reduce tax liabilities, the Daily Herald reported.
A Daily Herald investigation showed that Medinah officials stood to lower the club’s property tax bill by nearly 80 percent if the golf club’s lawyers were successful. That would cut the club’s 2013 tax bill from $391,554 to $84,257, the Daily Herald reported.
“I don’t think millionaire golf course owners should be getting a tax break on the backs of seniors who can barely afford to stay in their homes,” said state Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican who has been working on the issue but said “the critical need to get this done this year” was prompted by the Daily Herald investigation.
At the heart of the argument is the current state law that golf course attorneys believe allows open space designation for all parts of the course because the commercial buildings allow the adjacent property to remain “open,” the Daily Herald reported.
A court battle involving the state Property Tax Appeal Board and a Lake Forest golf club did not settle the issue. The Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear the case, the Daily Herald reported.
The Senate version of the bill called for a slight tax break, allowing golf clubs to receive open space credit on up to 10,000 sq. ft. of clubhouse or pro shop property. Sullivan said he is tweaking the House version to prevent further confusion among other corporate property owners and reduce the square-footage credits for golf-related buildings to a maximum of 8,000 sq. ft., the Daily Herald reported.
Louis Apostal, executive director of Property Tax Appeal Board, said the legislation would provide the guidelines needed to enforce property tax assessments on golf courses, but he still has some concerns about the bill, the Daily Herald reported.
“There are a couple of contradictions in this bill when they talk about swimming pools and other improved areas,” Apostal said. “It’s immaterial whether I like it or not. We would prefer to have hard and fast rules on this to just apply it.”
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