Local Socialists Demand An End To Country Club Tax Giveaways in Montgomery County

Elissa Laitin

February 1, 2019

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD — Today, County residents leafleted at local Metro stations to educate fellow residents about the property tax subsidies that wealthy country clubs have enjoyed for years.

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member Zach Wiita handed out leaflets at the Silver Spring Metro station and said, “Montgomery County country club tax policy is upside down: it caters to well-connected elites at the expense of the many. We need to change the law to meet the needs of the rest of us, not the few.”

The State of Maryland provides property tax subsidies to elite country clubs by assessing their property at a rate far below market value when determining clubs’ tax liability. For example, the Columbia Country Club is paying less than 25% of what its property tax bill would be if it was taxed at the same rate as regular homeowners.

Remarkably, Montgomery County’s elites are attempting to preserve this unfair tax giveaway at significant cost to the County. Revenue shortfalls have forced newly-inaugurated Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, endorsed last year by MDC DSA, to propose painful budgetary cuts to the County government, including $25 million from Montgomery County Public Schools and $3.9 million from Health and Human Services. If country clubs were assessed at standard rates, the County would receive about $10 million in additional tax revenues annually.

In addition, Metro D.C. DSA Chair Elizabeth Golden and MoCo DSA Organizing Committee member Elissa Laitin sent letters to every member of the Montgomery County delegation this week, to request that they support Delegate David Moon’s “country club bills,” MC 11-19 and 27-19.

“Our elected officials must end the practice of giving wealthy country clubs and their private golf courses a sharply reduced property tax rate,” said Laitin. “It is unconscionable for us to pay more in order to continue subsidizing the golf games of the ruling class.”

“We want to be clear. This level of class privilege is obscene.” Laitin continued. “While our public services are being cut, working people are forced to pay more. A few years ago, the County raised property tax rates on homeowners by almost nine percent. Meanwhile, these country clubs continue to pay less. And if there are country clubs not paying their fair share, we can be sure that others in the ruling class have lobbied for their own tax giveaways as well. MoCo DSA will continue to demand an end to these subsidies.”

Laitin warned, “We’ll be watching the votes on this legislation closely, to see whether our elected officials choose to side with the 99 percent or the one percent.”