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Local Taxation and Public Services for Community Associations

​Summary

CAI believes that common interest communities should not be taxed for municipal services not provided. Separate assessment and taxation of common property is unjust double taxation. Homeowners should be allowed to deduct association assessments attributable to the performance of public functions.

Policy

Community Associations Institute (CAI) supports the following policies:

  1. Property taxes imposed on homeowners of community association housing should be imposed on the same terms and conditions as those imposed on other homeowners. Separate assessment and taxation of the common property of a community association is unjust double taxation.

  2. The provision of public services to homeowners in community associations should be equal to services provided to all other homeowners. Otherwise, (a) public service providers should compensate community association homeowners for the cost of services not provided or, (b) Congress and the state legislatures should permit homeowners to deduct that portion of their community association assessments properly attributable to the association's performance of public functions, or to receive a credit equal to that amount.

Background

Throughout the United States, community associations with statutory or covenanted rights to assess their members for the maintenance, management or upkeep of property operated for the common benefit and enjoyment of their members have been bearing an ever-increasing burden of expenses and obligations historically paid for and performed by units of local governments.

The unique character of the community association form of ownership has frequently resulted in the value of common area improvements being improperly assessed and taxed twice: first to the community association and second to the individual association unit owners whose unit values reflect their exclusive right, together with the other members of their association, to make use of recreational buildings, swimming pools, tennis courts and similar common-area improvements.

Newly created community associations are increasingly required to provide their members with what have historically been considered "municipal" services. Association members must then typically pay the same local taxes as other neighboring homeowners even though trash collection, road and sidewalks maintenance and repair, street lighting, disposal of sewage, storm, flood and erosion control systems, shade and ornamental tree maintenance, security patrols for crime, disorder and public safety and other forms of public services are not made available to them.

Notwithstanding the obvious privatization of public services, community association members are doubly disadvantaged by not being able to deduct the portion of their association maintenance assessments attributable to public functions from their income for income tax purposes, as they can for municipal taxes.

There should be recognition that, apart from the homes themselves, common property in condominium and homeowner association developments has no value or, at best, a nominal value for property tax purposes. Since the title dedication of that property is to the exclusive benefit of the association homes, the value of the homes includes the value of the open space and improvements. Thus, any portion of the services provided for private benefit – such as maintenance, insurance and replacement of private buildings or portions of buildings occupied exclusively by members of the association, recreational facilities whose use is restricted to members of the association, and maintenance of restricted grounds and accessory support areas such as parking lots and garages restricted to members of the associations should be excluded.

policy history

Adopted by the Board of Trustees, October 29, 1988

Amended by the Public Policy Committee, October 6, 1993

Approved by the Board of Trustees, October 9, 1993

Amended by the Government & Public Affairs Committee, October 17, 2001

Approved by the Board of Trustees, May 3, 2002

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