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May 2019

New York Proposes Costly Tax Bill for Golf Courses


The New York state legislature is considering tax bills that could send golf course owners in that state into a tailspin.
 The pending legislation, Senate Bill S4420 (Carlucci) and Assembly Bill A6444 (Galef), would allow municipalities to assess golf courses and clubs in New York based on the property’s highest and best use rather than its current use. The financial impact to owners would be significant, with current costs increasing potentially up to 10 times.

How golf course properties are taxed can vary widely across the country. Many are already taxed at the “highest and best” rate, so the proposal in New York isn’t unique. But for others, they may have been given special considerations as open or green space for communities, and the desired development that was often built around them.

As Larry Hirsch, Golf Property Analysts president, explained in his recent blog post, (, “The practice of preferential assessments for golf properties provides substantial relief to golf courses and country clubs when compared to most jurisdictions, which assess based on the highest and best use of the land. In many cases, the highest and best use is for some form of alternative development that would use the land more efficiently.”

As local governments see their tax revenue belts tighten, they are looking for new ways to meet their own budgets. So even if a change in New York tax laws doesn’t seem to have any impact on a Midwest club, golf course owners need to keep their eye on this vote.

In his article about the tax proposal for Global Golf Post (, April 8), founder and publisher Jim Nugent wrote, “If you don’t live in New York, here’s why you need to care and pay attention: If the new tax framework works there, it could catch on elsewhere. Can’t you just see Los Angeles County trying to revalue Los Angeles Country Club in a property tax shakedown?”

Whichever way the New York legislature votes, the seeds of taxation changes continue to be planted. As Hirsch wrote, “It really comes down to what the (often politically partisan) local politicians feel is a priority – open space or tax revenue.”

Hirsch also noted in his blog there are ways to combat the higher tax assessment process, and owners need to investigate their options thoroughly.

Ronnie Miles, National Golf Course Owners Association director of advocacy, advises course owners to get out in front of the situation and make their voices heard. He says the association will continue to monitor this bill, and others like it, and assist owners when possible.

Larry Hirsch, Golf Property Analysts president, (, and Ronnie Miles, NGCOA director of advocacy, (, contributed to this article.


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