New York lawmakers tee up tax bill that takes a swing at golf courses

Industry advocates have sounded the alarm about proposed legislation that could raise property taxes

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. The prospect of higher taxes comes as the golf industry has stabilized after the 2008 recession hit it hard.
/Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

By Keiko Morris | The Wall Street Journal

Golf-industry advocates have sounded the alarm about a bill that could result in raising property taxes for golf-course owners in New York.

The proposed legislation would give local governments the option to assess and tax golf courses based on “highest and best use,” which, for many facilities, could mean being considered as a residential development with a much higher value.

Business owners and industry representatives fear the measure would usher in tax hikes for many facilities, prompt closures of courses and hurt local tourism and hospitality markets at a time when the sport faces stiff competition to gain more fans.

“Home builders are watering at the mouth at a lot of golf course land and would pay 10 times what it’s worth as a golf course,” said Jay Karen, chief executive of the National Golf Course Owners Association. “If all of the sudden we saw tax bills at golf courses increasing by a factor of 10, you are going to see an acceleration of golf course closures.”

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