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In the renewed hope of closing a tax loophole, Del. David Moon (D-20) is sponsoring legislation in the upcoming legislative session to eliminate a certain tax write-off for country clubs.
Moon, along with other state legislators, testified at the County Council about numerous priorities they and the Council have for the upcoming legislative session in Annapolis. For some members of the County Council, the closing of the tax loophole could offset some upcoming potential budget challenges.
Currently under state law, some country clubs in Montgomery County have their property assessed at $1000 per acre rather than at market value. Moon’s bill would amend the Maryland Constitution to allow the state to change the way it assesses property for country clubs in the County.
To be eligible for the tax write-off, a country club must have a golf course open to the public on a location of 50 acres of land that maintains a regular- or championship-level golf course with nine holes or more.
“This was the state forcing the County to give up this property tax revenue through state law,” said Moon, who also introduced the bill in the last legislative session.
For Council member Tom Hucker, the elimination of the tax write-off can provide some minor budget relief to the County, as new sources of revenue will be hard to come by in the next budget.
“I’ll ask everybody to remember if we don’t support this bill that we’ll have to explain to everybody why we continue to subsidize a few elite country clubs with the money we could be giving to provide for the unmet needs of Montgomery County,” Hucker said.
While the Council was generally supportive of Moon’s bill, Council member Craig Rice (D-2), said he worried if the bill could potentially hurt Montgomery County, since, if passed, Montgomery County country clubs wouldn’t have access to a special tax write-off while clubs in other parts of the state would. Rice suggested that Moon’s bill should apply to all country clubs in the state out of fairness.
“When we’re starting to make business decisions that disadvantage Montgomery County businesses in the state, that’s a concern of mine,” Rice said.
Rice than shared the opinion that he was particularly worried that golf courses in the up-County could be affected by an increasing tax burden.
Moon contended that clubs that legitimately could not afford to give up the tax burden would not be affected by his bill. Moon said that his bill is meant to take direct action against specific clubs, naming Chevy Chase Club, Columbia Country Club, Congressional Country Club, Kenwood Golf and Country Club, and Bethesda Country Club.
“Anyone that would claim hardship is going to be out of this bill,” Moon said.