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June 2019

Taking on the Tax Codes

By Ronnie Miles
Director of Advocacy
NGCOA
 
 
Today, more than ever we receive reports of states attempting to pass legislation that specifically targets a single business entity, GOLF! Why is this? As many of you have read or heard by now, the state of New York has introduced a bill in the Senate and Assembly that would encourage their taxing districts to change their current method of assessing golf courses from “current use” to “highest and best use.” (Golf Business, May 2019, New York Proposes Costly Tax Bill for Golf Courses) As a golf course owner you can clearly see how devastating this would be to any golf course or country club.

These bills were introduced by a senator and assemblywoman who serve a state and districts where President Trump’s golf courses are located. It is well known he has been battling local tax assessors over their assessment of his properties. So, it seems that in an effort to help local officials in this fight, the members at the state level have decided they needed to provide local tax assessors with more tools in order to combat this type of argument from a landowner in the future.

NGCOA has reached out to our members in New York as well as other golf course owners and operators and encouraged them to connect with their representatives and let them know the impact this bill will have on their business and communities. As of this publication date, the bill was forwarded to committees but has not been scheduled for a hearing or debate.

While this may appear to be a New York issue, golf course owners and operators in other states need to monitor this issue. If approved in New York, we can only assume that other state governments will consider similar legislation where budgets are tight and new sources of revenue are sought.

Like in Connecticut, where the governor has introduced a budget measure that would require sales taxes on green fees. Golfers in Connecticut already pay sales tax on membership fees and cart rentals, and with a rate of 10 percent, the price may cause many golfers to further limit the rounds they play. Owners and operators across the state are not only engaging with the representatives, but are educating and encouraging their golfers to do the same.

Many of our political leaders fail to realize the impact golf has on local and state economies. It is our role as industry representative and golf course owners and operators to continue to share our message in our communities and all the way to Washington, D.C. Many of our states host State Golf Day events. As owners and operators you are the influencers in this industry. Your engagement with your state and local representatives can go a long way in changing the narrative that golf is for the elitist and the industry is over subsidized by the current tax codes.

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