Panel hears ski team’s tax appeal | ParkRecord.com

Panel hears ski team’s tax appeal

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

The United States Ski and Snowboard Association has appealed a tax decision from Summit County. Last year, councilpersons ruled that the non-profit organization did not qualify for a property-tax exemption for the Center of Excellence training facility because the building is owned by a for-profit entity.

The Utah State Tax Commission heard USSA’s appeal in the case this summer. Without the tax-exempt status for its $22 million facility at Quinn’s Junction, USSA will have to pay property tax.

In Utah, property used by non-profit organizations for religious, charitable or educational purposes could qualify for tax exemptions. The Center of Excellence should qualify as an educational organization because amateur athletes train at the facility, USSA officials claimed.

The training center is roughly 85,000 square feet. The facility features a weight room, gymnasium, sports-recovery area and nutrition center.

USSA is a non-profit organization. But the training facility is owned by Center of Excellence, LLC, which is a for-profit company. USSA leases the facility from the private firm.

At issue is whether property owned by a for-profit company should qualify for a tax exemption when it is leased to a non-profit organization. To qualify for the exemption, Summit County councilpersons say nonprofits must own the property.

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But an attorney for USSA has argued that the organization formed the for-profit company as the titleholder to protect the Center of Excellence from potential lawsuits brought by athletes who are injured while training.

Still, councilpersons claimed the United States Ski and Snowboard Association should not receive the tax exemption because the for-profit owner of the Center of Excellence is not exclusively engaged in educational, religious or charitable activities.

The only use of the building by the business is to lease the facility to USSA, county officials claimed.

"Leasing or renting a building, especially in this instance for substantial lease payments, does not qualify as an owner’s ‘religious, charitable or educational’ use of the subject property under [state law,]" attorney Maxwell Miller states in a legal brief filed on behalf of Summit County.

It could take several weeks for the Utah State Tax Commission to issue a decision in the case.