By: Mark D. Lansing
Notwithstanding that property taxes tend to be one of the more significant operating expenses for commercial property owners, applying the “good corporate citizen” rational, many fail to challenge their assessments. Does that really work or just a myth? It is a myth. Being a good corporate citizen does not mean that your property taxes should not be equitable. Yet, commercial and industrial property owners pay well in excess of their fair share. A review of states having equalization rates and other means to measure “inequality” in valuation, frequently, if not always, shows that commercial and industrial property owners (or large tenants, as lessees) are valued at a substantially higher uniform percent of value than residential property. Thus, the question becomes – why? Why do commercial and industrial property owners subsidize residential and vacant land parcels? More often than not the rational is to be a “good corporate citizen.” Notably, being that good corporate citizen rarely translates into some other quantifiable benefit to the taxpayer (e.g., environmental certificate, building permit, zoning variance). To the contrary, and legally, the two are distinct and disparate.
Conversely, those taxpayers that seek equitable taxation on long-term basis often obtain that result, maintain good community relations, and put themselves into a greater or more competitive position, as their property taxes tend to be substantially lower and more reflective of market value. That is, by holding the assessor’s feet to the fire, the taxpayer experiences a greater likelihood of a long-term valuation that reflects market value. By doing so in a respectful and cooperative manner, community relations are maintained or even enhanced.
Mr. Lansing focuses his practice on property tax & condemnation matters with respect to energy, industrial and commercial properties. He achieves significant property tax savings and assessment reductions for his clients through litigation, negotiations (settlements), due diligence reviews and alternative agreements (e.g., PILOTs). Mark assists clients with their valuation of complex property, and through real property tax management. Mr. Lansing also works with energy, industrial and commercial companies in buying, building and operating facilities to effectively manage their property taxes, including due diligence review in the purchase or development phase, and representation before administrative agencies.
As an experienced trial lawyer, Mark has successfully represented clients in settlement negotiations, motions, trials and appeals at all levels of state and Federal Courts (including, Circuit Courts of Appeal). Mark is also well published in property tax and condemnation valuation matters. Mark Lansing may be reached in our Washington, D.C. office at 202.466.5964.