Should Illinois Golf Clubs Pay Real Estate Taxes?
As an Illinois Appellate Court contemplates whether private country clubs should pay property tax on their buildings, the legislature could negate the outcome of the case.
Readers in Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Deerfield and Highland Park had a strong reaction—both pro and con—to a case brought by the Onwentsia Club which will decide whether private clubs on open land like golf courses must pay real estate tax on their buildings.
With the case winding its way through the Illinois court system, Patch wants to know what its readers think.
It has already learned from people making comments to stories on the Highland Park, Deerfield and Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Patches they have passionate feelings. The poll beneath this story asks whether the legislature should act to change the law and remove it from the courts.
The issue is significant in all four communities because they have 10 private golf or country clubs between them. Should those clubs not be required to pay property tax on their buildings, the taxing authorities will collect that money from the rest of the taxpayers.
One reader, Marco Sangria, believes the open space provided by golf clubs is a benefit to the community. He notes they already pay sales tax on goods and services sold and the only revenue collected comes from the membership.
“What value is a club house, locker room and grille if there is no membership to use it?” Sangria writes. “I feel the open space that the clubs provide along with the maintenance of the grounds adds value to the community.”
Another reader, T.J. Wheeler, is already asking for legislative action. “This is ridiculous,” he writes. “Private country clubs should be charged for their property tax. This law needs to change (contact your state rep).”
Arthur Miller sees another value to private clubs keeping their exemption. If their burden to keep going becomes too severe, they could develop parts of their land and that could change the character of the community. He believes open land like golf courses are important.
“People are missing the point that Onwentsia is open space—like Lake Forest Open Lands,” Miller writes. “If it was broken up and Stonebridge-like maisonettes were built up and down the fairways we would need a whole new school for the new families. This is as well a landscape, architectural, and historic site of national significance.”
Reader Bill Clark wants the clubs to pay what he considers their fair share of taxes. “A private club is just that, private,” he writes. “It is a business entity, just like mine. I pay my property taxes on my building and land and so should they.” His suggestion to the resolve the burden. “Raise your dues.”
In addition to Onwentsia, the other clubs which could potentially receive a benefit are Shoreacres and Knollwood in Lake Bluff, Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Briarwood and Ravinia Green in Deerfield along with Old Elm, Exmoor, Bob O’Link and Northmoor in Highland Park.