It isn't another Proposition 13. It isn't even a protest movement yet. Nevertheless. Building magazine predicts that double taxation of common property will become a major issue this year for residents of planned communities.
The issue centers on areas such as private streets, roads, sidewalks, parks, clubhouses and swimming pools in so-called planned unit developments or cluster communities that are owned by condominium and homeowners associations.
In most states taxes are levied on the land and/or facilities. Residents, through their association assessments, pay these taxes in addition to the taxes on their individual dwellings. This means, in effect, that they are being taxed twice on the same thing because the price of the common property and facilities is already reflected in the value of their units.
For example, if it costs a developer $2 million to build PUD residences and another $250,000 to provide common amenities, the developer can be expected to recoup the outlay for the amenities by including it in the home prices. This duality is perpetuated indefinitely as values and assessments rise.
California, where so many movements are born, has a state law exempting all kinds of residential common interest developments from real estate taxes. Texas passed such a law last year, and Massachusetts has one under consideration.
In Maryland the revolt against double taxation began, according to the Community Associations Institute, with a 1973 court case in Anne Arundel County that pitted the supervisor of assessments against Bay Ridge Properties. The homeowners were relieved of paying the double tax.
Two years later the Leisure World of Maryland Trust, located in Montgomery County, wound up in tax court. At issue was the community's clubhouse parcel, assessed for $592,810. The tax bill amounted to about $20,000. Lawyers for Leisure World successfully argued they were being doubly taxed.