Santa Clara County assessor files legal challenge to $6M tax break for 49ers on Levi’s Stadium

2019 49ers pre-season game

The Santa Clara County Assessor filed a legal challenge Monday arguing that the 49ers should not be allowed a 50 percent property tax break on Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

The 49ers rent the stadium from the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, which is overseen by the Santa Clara City Council. In January, the Assessment Appeals Board granted the team an annual property tax reduction of $6 million per year and a one-time refund of $36 million.

County Assessor Larry Stone is now arguing that local school and community college districts will lose out as a result of the tax break, and that the 49ers possess a “lions share” of the stadium and its events, instead of sharing evenly with the city.

“The board’s decision ignores many of the 49ers’ valuable rights and instead simply splits the value of the stadium exactly in half between the 49ers and the public authority — a position for which neither side argued, that no data supported, and that no lawful valuation method can justify,” Stone said in a news release.

The team is aware of the appeal but is not commenting on the matter, according to spokesman Rahul Chandhok. Santa Clara city officials praised Stone’s appeal, and said the “strong” legal action will likely restore his original assessment. “While city officials were prepared to take similar legal actions, we are satisfied that Assessor Stone’s actions demonstrate his understanding of the seriousness of the situation as well as his commitment to objective assessments based on facts and data,” the city said in a statement.

Stone is also supported by county counsel James Williams, who is litigating on his behalf.

“Communities spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build stadiums to attract professional sports teams. But when the owners of these teams fail to pay their fair share of property taxes, they are taking away money from local schools, police and firefighters, and other valuable services that our communities need,” Williams said in a statement.

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