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Property tax break fight finds some common ground

Posted By administrator , Wednesday, May 2, 2018

By Mike Sunnucks – Senior Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal

         The Arizona House of Representatives approved 58-0 a bill adding some new reforms to property tax breaks that cities offer to developers and businesses.

          House Bill 2126 ended up being a compromise measure between fiscal conservatives, real estate groups and cities over Government Property Lease Excise Taxes. or GPLETs.

          GPLETs involve city governments owning land but leasing it to private developers and businesses who then pay lower property taxes than if they owned it outright.

          Cities and real estate interests argue GPLETs are a key economic development tool especially since Arizona doesn't have tax increment financing.

          Critics counter GPLETs are unfair because they offer special and lower tax treatment to certain developers and businesses, but not those who own private property.


          HB 2126 centers on GPLETs and downtown and redevelopment areas that cities can designate as qualifying for the areas where the property tax break can be used.


         Going forward cities can only designate 2.5 percent of their total land, or 960 acres, as a central business district. The bill does allow existing designations by Mesa and Tempe to be grandfathered.


         "We applaud the consensus pivot to looking at CBD lines and view that as a win-win for all involved where the cities have agreed to go to a 2.5 percent limit of their land mass for the area where the eight-year abatement tool can be utilized in the future," said Tim Lawless, executive director of the BOMA Greater Phoenix commercial real estate group.


         Lawless — is also is president of Commercial Real Estate Executives for Economic Development (CREED) — credited bill sponsor State Rep. Vince Leach, as well as representatives for cities, other real estate groups and the Arizona Tax Research Association for reaching a deal.


         In addition, Lawless credited Nick Wood, a prominent land-use attorney at Phoenix law firm Snell & Wilmer LLP, with helping craft a compromise measure.


        Wood also liked the common-ground result.


        “We have successfully negotiated a compromise with respect to the proposed GPLET bill,” Wood said of the measure which now heads to the Arizona Senate.


         Leach and the state Legislature passed some changes to GPLET tax breaks last year but came back again after conservatives voiced concerns about how some cities were drawing downtown and redevelopment zone lines to qualify for the tax status.

Tags:  Property tax 

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