Atlantic City seeks tax sale for unpaid casino taxes
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Here’s another example of how Atlantic City’s casino woes are hurting the city and its residents: Bankrupt or shuttered casinos owe the city millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.
The bankrupt Trump Entertainment Resorts owes more than $12 million in back taxes, nearly 10 percent of the city’s budget. The shuttered Revel also owes unpaid taxes, and the city plans next month to hold a tax sale that could lead to an investor, or the city itself, foreclosing on the properties.
City officials, however, would not say how much Revel owes in unpaid taxes despite two days of inquiries by The Associated Press into what is routinely considered public information.
“We are not releasing anything at this time,” said Chris Filiciello, chief of staff to Mayor Don Guardian.
The city last week filed court papers asking a bankruptcy judge to allow it to hold a tax sale on the Trump Taj Mahal, which owes nearly $11 million in taxes it has not paid this year as it waits to emerge from Chapter 11 protection. Trump Plaza, which closed in September 2014, owes nearly $1.5 million.
Owners of the three casinos declined to comment on their tax statuses. Revel and Trump Plaza were two of the four Atlantic City casinos that closed last year, along with The Atlantic Club and the Showboat.
In the city’s filing with the bankruptcy court, finance director Michael Stinson said the failure of the casinos to pay up is shifting the burden to other taxpayers. The city still has to pay its school system and Atlantic County, whether or not it gets money from its taxable properties.
“If the city is deprived of the revenue generated from the tax sale, it will have to take money that otherwise could go to essential municipal services and pay it to the schools and county,” he wrote. “The city should not be forced to engage in this perilous balancing act, which drastically affects the daily life of the city’s residents.”
In a tax sale, investors or the city can buy liens called tax sale certificates. When the property owner finally pays the delinquent taxes, the certificate holder is paid interest. If the tax debt is not paid within two years, the investor can foreclose on the property; the city can foreclose in six months.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC