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By Che Odom
Sept. 14 — Donald Trump is striking back at the District of Columbia's attempt to dismiss his lawsuit seeking a $1.7 million tax refund for a luxury hotel project ( Trump Old Post Office LLC v. Distict of Columbia, D.C. Super. Ct., No. 2016-CVT-000010, opposition to motion to dismiss 9/13/16 ).
Attorneys for the Republican presidential candidate said in a court filing that the city's Aug. 29 motion to dismiss is moot because he filed an amended petitionSept. 2. The District's motion to dismiss only addresses his original petition, filed June 30.
In addition, the city's claim that his suit was untimely is bogus, according to a motion filed Sept. 13 on behalf of Trump Old Post Office LLC, the entity Trump established for the $200 million hotel project.
Appeal of the city tax assessment to D.C. Superior Court occurred well before the Sept. 30 deadline mentioned on “the District's own assessment notices,” Trump's motion said.
Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., housed in the 1899 castle-like Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue five blocks from the White House, features 263 rooms and suites, the first Ivanka Suite—$1,050 a night—and what Trump calls the biggest ballroom in the nation's capital.
Complimentary services include daily shoeshine, evening turn-down and “National Park Services escorted Clock Tower tours,” according to the hotel website.
Room prices started at $725 a night on Hotels.com Sept. 14. Its soft opening was Sept. 12, with the official grand opening planned for late October.
In its motion to dismiss the billionaire's suit, the city said Trump's company never paid $837,352.58 of the money he wants back (170 DTR H-4, 9/1/16).
In response, Trump's attorneys said the company paid the entire amount when it received an invoice from the city Aug. 16 for the second installment of taxes for 2016. “Petitioner timely paid all taxes due,” their opposition to the motion to dismiss said.
The city said Trump's petition appeared to seek a refund for 2017 taxes that had not been assessed. Trump's attorneys said they only mentioned the impending 2017 tax bill because the same valuation problems that apply to 2015 to 2016 will apply to 2017.
The city incorrectly assessed the Old Post Office property as a “fully functional and rent-producing commercial office building” before the two-year renovation project was complete, Trump's attorneys said.
The valuation that the city placed “on the shell of a non-operational building undergoing a massive conversion to a hotel” resulted in “an assessment of possessory interest taxes that is neither equitable nor reasonable,” the motion filed by Trump Old Post Office LLC said.
Trump said the project shouldn't be charged taxes for the past two years as a viable property because of the significant changes inside the building. The renovation costs are especially high because of his company's “commitment to preserve historical structures and features and the vast size of the building.”
The hotel was funded mainly by a $170 million construction loan from Deutsche Bank AG that was guaranteed by the GOP candidate.
Trump's daughter Ivanka helped negotiate the $3 million-a-year lease of the government-owned building and oversaw its redevelopment and design, according to Bloomberg News.
Trump Old Post Office LLC is represented by Arnold & Porter LLP partner William Bosch and associate Bryan Adkins.
To contact the reporter on this story: Che Odom in Washington at email@example.com
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Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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