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Borgata wins major victory on tax assessment in ruling that could be trouble for Atlantic City

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The Borgata won a major victoryfrom the New Jersey Tax Court, which ruled that the casino's property assessment should be reduced.
The Borgata won a major victoryfrom the New Jersey Tax Court, which ruled that the casino's property assessment should be reduced. - (FILE PHOTO)

The Borgata casino in Atlantic City won a major victory today from the New Jersey Tax Court, which ruled that the casino's property assessment should be reduced, putting the Borgata in line for property tax refunds totaling $48.8 million for 2009 and 2010.

Attorney A. Paul Genato, of Archer & Greiner, who is not involved in the case, said Atlantic City would likely appeal the decision. Attorneys for Atlantic City could not immediately be reached for comment.

Genato said Atlantic City did a major, city-wide property revaluation in 2008, and "several of the casinos filed tax appeals, some have settled and some are still pending." The Borgata decision "could possibly embolden other casinos to revisit their (property tax situation) and see if a reduction is warranted."

Genato said the tax court sided with the expert appraisals presented by the Borgata, lowering the casino's assessment from $2.26 billion to $880 million in 2009, and from $2.26 billion to $870 million in 2010.

If property tax appeals are waged successfully by the casinos, which represent a large share of the city's tax base, the result will be a further erosion of the ratable base, Genato said. He said Atlantic City property tax rates more than doubled between 2008 and 2013.

"To put things in perspective, a homeowner in Atlantic City with an assessment of $200,000 paid $3,332 in property taxes in 2008, and $5,084 in property taxes in 2013," Genato said. "With casinos paying less in property taxes, the burden will shift to other commercial, industrial and residential property owners in Atlantic City."

Property owners can appeal their taxes every year, and "each tax year stands on its own," Genato said. He said if the city appeals the Borgata decision, "it could be overturned or remanded back to the tax court."

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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