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DC Tax Office Follows the Law on Assessments

Thursday, November 29, 2012

DC Tax Office Follows the Law on Assessments

Washington Post Letter-to-the-Editor

Regarding the Nov. 21 Metro article “DC tax office’s practices criticized”:

My office is continuing its review of the report of the Office of the Inspector General relating to commercial real property assessments by the DC Office of Tax and Revenue.

We are compelled to point out, however, that District law requires assessors to take into consideration contract rent when using the “income approach” to assessing major properties. Use of market rent exclusively when implementing the income approach would be a policy decision that would require a change in the law by the mayor and the DC Council. The rule implemented by the Office of Tax and Revenue, confirmed in the DC Code, is the same as that used in Maryland and Virginia; it is also the rule used by a majority of local government assessors in the United States.

Moreover, consideration of contract rent, among other factors, was upheld by the DC Court of Appeals in Wolf v. DC, and the DC Superior Court ruling in National Place Ltd. v. DC Although The Post reported that the inspector general asserts that my office’s interpretation is based on a selective reading of these cases, a full reading of the decisions provides ample evidence supporting the Office of Tax and Revenue’s view.

Natwar M. Gandhi, Washington                                                                                                      
The writer is the chief financial officer of the District of Columbia