Trump de­nied tax break on his Do­ral golf re­sort

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Andy Reid Staff writer

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.”

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