ReNewShaw Twitter

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Update on Shiloh's Vacant Property Re-Classification

As you likely recall, in March I reported that six of Shiloh's seven vacant properties on 8th and 9th Streets, NW, were no longer listed as vacant by the DCRA or the Office of Tax and Revenue. After the issue garnered considerable neighborhood scrutiny, all six properties were re-classified as Class 3 vacant in the online tax database. However, the issue of whether Shiloh would be able to benefit from the inadvertent re-classification -- thereby avoiding having to pay about $150,000 in taxes per the vacant rate -- remained unclear.

This month's D.C. North sheds light on the issue and makes it sound as though the church will not have to pay taxes as if the re-classification never occurred (check out the article online here). In part, D. C. North reports that:

Nicholas Majett, DCRA’s deputy director, has not clarified whether the church will be charged with the bill, which comes to $150,000, plus interest and penalties. “We’ll do what we do with any property—we make a decision based on evidence submitted,” he said. But Majett isn’t certain that making Shiloh pay is the right thing to do. “I think it’s an egregious act” to charge a retroactive tax bill, he said. “Times are hard for everybody.”

I don't think the church should benefit from a mistaken re-classification of six of its seven vacant properties. Doing so would be inequitable to every other vacant property owner who received no such erroneous windfall, would take the teeth out of the vacant property tax rate, and could give rise to a slippery slope of allowing taxpayers to benefit from any administrative error (as far as I know, the cause of the error in this case is still unknown). Further, after the church's years and years of redevelopment inaction without facing the vacant tax rate, I can't imagine that development would be hastened by failing to apply the rate in full force.

7 comments:

Mr. Q said...

A retroactive tax bill is an"egregious act"? Mr. Majett has to be kidding...

The only egregious act here is the incompetence of the District's taxing authority and Shiloh's complete disregard for the neighborhood for more than 20 years...

Charles Walker said...

I guess by this standard, it would also be an egregious act to require Marion Barry to file tax returns for all those years that he failed to do so.

sylvia said...

Any word on Council action to roll back the vacant property tax rate to $5? I spoke to staff in W7 CM's office who said that there is a delay in considering but there'll be some action on the issue. I'm just afraid it'll be the wrong action leaving residents with the shortend of the stick. Let me know if there is a citizen effort to prevent the roll back! Thanks.

Sylvia Brown
ANC7C04
7c04@anc.dc.gov

Anonymous said...

Sylvia, as i understand, plans to roll back the vacant tax rate are temporarily stalled due to falling tax receipts. A bill will surely be reintroduced however.

With regard to Shiloh, DCRA has said that the retroactive issue is a decision that must be made by OTR, OTR will say it's DCRA. I've been through this round with both. The appropriate tax will be levied against Shiloh only if enough neighbors reach out to DCRA/Evans/Fenty to ensure this happens.

There was a rooftop break in on 8th street three or so weeks ago while the occupants were sleeping. The suspect fled via rooftop and was apprehended in a vacant property. These pose a clear danger to the community, i find it quite disturbing that our elected officials are not doing more to address this issue.

Anonymous said...

can someone let us know who/where to contact (with contact info) about this tax issue?

si said...

Vacant property tax is SUPPOSED to be DCRA's responsibility. i wrote to nicholas.majett(at)dc.gov & you all can too. this stinks.

Alan said...

The guy to contact is Nicholas Majette at the DCRA...941 N. Capitol St.,NE, Suite 7100. Tel # 202-442-4332 Fax # 202-442-9564.