Thursday, December 7, 2017
Atlantic County recently presented its arguments to Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez on why the casino PILOT bill that eliminates tax hikes for Atlantic City casinos for a 10-year period violates the state constitution’s Uniformity Clause requiring all real estate to be assessed using the same method and taxed at the same rate.
The PILOT permits the casinos to pay a fixed amount in lieu of regular property taxes. It also removes them from Atlantic City’s tax base, a loss of $3.2 billion in tax ratables in 2017 or approximately 10 percent of the total county tax base.
The State of New Jersey continues to claim the PILOT bill provided Atlantic County more tax money in 2017 than was received in 2016 prior to its implementation. But the numbers indicate otherwise.
While it is true the casinos were billed more in 2017 at $12,480,000 as compared to $12,379,565 in 2016, the county did not receive more tax money in 2017. The tax bill for Atlantic City, including the casinos, was $24.9 million in 2016 before the PILOT. In 2017 that same tax bill was only $19.9 million which equates to a $5 million loss in revenue.
“The numbers provide the true impact of the PILOT on Atlantic County’s taxpayers,” stated County Administrator Gerald DelRosso. “The casinos received preferential treatment at the expense of the county’s non-casino taxpayers who do not have the benefit of a fixed tax rate and must make up the loss in revenue resulting from the PILOT.”
DelRosso also noted that while businesses and property owners will continue to be taxed for renovations to their properties, the casinos will not.
“If a taxpayer finishes a basement or attic, puts on an addition or deck, those improvements will be taxed. But a casino can add a restaurant, ballroom or Olympic-sized swimming pool to its existing footprint tax-free thanks to the casino PILOT,” he said.
County officials await Judge Mendez's ruling on the PILOT with confidence that the bill’s failure to tax casinos and non-casinos in a uniform and equal manner will be ruled unconstitutional.