Trump denied tax break on his Doral golf resort
President Donald Trump won’t get a property tax break on his Doral golf resort, according to a ruling from Miami-Dade County released Thursday.
Trump National Doral Miami appealed to try and trim a nearly $1.8 million 2016 tax bill for the 643- room resort and spa that features the famed Blue Monster golf course.
While Trump successfully appealed his tax bills from 2012 to 2015, a hearing officer sided with the county property appraiser over the president’s tax attorney in deciding the value of the golf resort for 2016.
Tax assessment appeals are common for commercial
properties, and Trump and his companies through the years have often made them.
Even though the latest appeal involved the president of the United States, MiamiDade officials have said the owner doesn’t factor into tax appeals.
“There’s nothing that seems to be different,” MiamiTax Collector Marcus Saiz de laMora said in April about the Doral appeal. “If you are a taxpayer ... you have the right to appeal the assessment.”
Trump has paid at least $2.9 million in 2016 property taxes for a collection of South Florida properties including:
Almost $1.8 million for Trump National Doral Miami.
Nearly $400,000 for the TrumpNational Golf Club in Jupiter. The club lost a tax assessment appeal in January.
About $140,000 for the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, which gets a big discount by using land leased from the county.
About $460,000 for the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. Trump appealed Mar-a-Lago’s assessment in years past, but not in 2016.
Another $183,000 for two homes and a vacant lot near Mar-a-Lago.
Last year, TrumpNational Doral Miami used a tax appeal to cut about$143,000off its 2015 property taxes.
Trump National Doral Miami tried again this year to shrink its tax bill by seeking a reduction of the MiamiDade Property Appraiser’ s estimate that the club was worth about $112 million in 2016 — up from $98 million the prior year.
Trump attorney Gary Appel at a May 11 hearing argued that the county overestimated factors such as the resort’s room rate revenues. Some rooms weren’t available during 2016 because of renovations, which should lessen their value, according toAppel.
Appel also argued that the county had assigned too much value to the development potential of the property, saying Doral wouldn’t sell off land that was linkedto golf operations.
The county and Trump National Doral Miami were not “oceans apart” in the dispute, which centered on “a few percentage points of difference,” Appel said during the hearing.
While a downtown Miami hotel with a similar number of rooms had its 2016 taxable value reduced, “it’s not the same” as Doral, county hearing officer Pedro Alvarez said during theMay 11hearing.
And even though some rooms were out of commission during renovations at Doral, “there’s value there,” Alvarez said. He also said the sales and development potential of portions of the D oral property must be factored into the value.
Doral’s tax bill for2016has already been paid in full, which means had Trump prevailed he would have been due a refund.
After losing before the county hearing officer, Trump National Doral Miami could still file a lawsuit to try to lower the tax bill.
Representatives for Trump and his companies could not be reached for comment Thursday.
This is at least the second tax appeal the president has lost in a year in South Florida.
Just six days after Trump’s inauguration, TrumpNational Golf Club in Jupiter lost a tax assessment appeal in Palm Beach County.
Trump still has a pending lawsuit against Palm Beach County over the Jupiter club’s past tax assessments, whichcould ultimately bring a refund if the club wins in court.
The owner of a property — even if it’s the president— shouldn’t factor into a tax assessment appeal, according to tax consultant Stan Beck of Hallandale Beach. Beck for decades has handled South Florida tax assessment appeals on everything from homes to shopping centers.
“I can’t imagine what the difference is,” Beck said about handling a case involving a president’s property. “It’ s very common for people to seek review of their [tax] assessments.”