Golf-course owners in Ohio could get a new tax treatment under the pending two-year state budget put forth by the Ohio Senate for the fiscal year that kicks off June 30th, and County Auditors aren’t too happy about having their taxing power curtailed.
A tax law change for golf-course owners has been considered by the legislature for six years, and is opposed by County Auditors across the state. House and Senate leaders are working out differences in the budget bill so that final votes can be taken next week.
The Senate-added provision would reduce property-tax liabilities for golf-course owners by requiring county auditors to appraise them in a specific way. Currently, Auditors have three ways to evaluate golf courses and other commercial property: compare them with recent sales and similar property types; base the valuation on their highest use (which for most courses would be as a housing development); or base the value on the income the property generates.
The Senate budget would require that Auditors base golf course tax rates on generated income.
In the real world, basing property tax on income generated is the only fair assessment for golf courses because the rate is based on something real. To base property taxes on some pipe-dream development that would likely never occur, or on the price at which another golf course was sold at the height of the market, is absurd.
But several county auditors have wailed at the suggestion of their lost power and revenue. Check out this Columbus Dispatch article and read the whinings of the Franklin and Delaware County Auditors.
I say the Ohio Senate should take it one step further. Given that a local golf course owner must compete directly against city and county-owned municipal golf courses that pay ZERO property taxes, the Senate should truly level the playing field in this same bill.
To make the system truly equitable, the budget should require that ALL golf courses pay property taxes on revenues generated — even city and county-owned municipal courses — so that the treatment of those golf courses is the same no matter who owns them.
That way, the County Auditors get their revenue shortfalls made up by city and county golf course tax payments, and municipal courses don’t get a $100,000 head start every year to use on advertising and improvements that allow them to unfairly compete against privately-owned tax-paying golf courses.
Agree? Contact your Ohio State Senator and tell him or her to strengthen the budget law even further to tax ALL golf courses at income-generated rates…