University files lawsuits to reduce property taxes by $5.5 million

The University filed three separate lawsuits this fall to try to recoup more than $5.5 million in property taxes from the District.

Each case disputes property taxes levied for the 2010 tax year, claiming the University is paying too much in taxes for 2000 and 2100 Pennsylvania Ave., 805 21st St. and 824 New Hampshire Ave. – The GW Inn – according to court documents.

Each building was “assessed in excess of its estimated market value,” according to the petition filed by the University. The more a property is worth, the more taxes an owner pays on that property.

GW originally challenged the city’s assessment of each involved property’s value in March 2009, but four months later, the Office of Tax and Revenue decided to make no changes to the sums, according to the documents.

“The assessment made by Respondent on the subject property fails to give appropriate consideration to the true market value, size, location, usage, operating costs, earning capacity, zoning, government imposed restrictions and the condition of the subject property,” all three complaints filed in court stated.

In September 2009, the University further appealed to the D.C. Board of Real Property Assessments and Appeals, resulting in about an $11 million tax reduction for properties at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. and 805 21st St. GW is still filing to receive an additional $3 million refund for those properties. Properties that did not receive tax reductions include The GW Inn and an office building at 2100 Pennsylvania Ave.

The office building’s value was assessed without taking the financial credit crisis or dipping economy into account, and the hotel has also seen a decrease in revenue, according to the documents.

In a response to the petition filed by the University, the District denied allegations that the properties were assessed to be of greater value than the estimated market value.

The total amount of property taxes owed for the properties associated with the cases is about $331.7 million, taking into account the $11 million reduction.

Initial hearings on the status of the case are set for April 11.

The attorneys representing the University and D.C. did not respond to requests for comment.

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