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Transfer Tax, Property Tax and Assessment Challenges

Mayer Brown has a strong, experienced and diverse team of professionals who focus on property tax management and reduction work.


Property taxes are often the largest recurring expense associated with owning and leasing property. Particularly during economic downturns and periods of financial stress, assessment officials often feel pressure to push property valuations and, therefore, property tax liabilities, to the highest possible levels. Increased costs due to high property tax burdens put property owners, tenants and managers at a competitive disadvantage. Organizations with property interests should employ comprehensive and robust property tax management and reduction strategies to ensure property tax burdens are kept at fair and reasonable levels.

Mayer Brown has a strong, experienced and diverse team of professionals who focus on property tax management and reduction work. We are skilled at negotiating fair and appropriate property tax burdens with local assessment officials, taxing districts, review boards, administrative taxing bodies and tax tribunals. Mayer Brown’s property tax professionals also have the requisite litigation experience if a taxing official adopts a position that needs to be challenged in court.

Mayer Brown's extensive experience includes challenging assessments for a wide range of property types such as: 
    • Banks 
    • Bank-owned real estate 
    • Electric power generating facilities 
    • Hotels 
    • Industrial 
    • Long-term health and life care facilities 
    • Low-income housing 
    • Manufacturing 
    • Medical office buildings 
    • Movie theaters 
    • Multifamily 
    • Mineral and stone processing facilities 
    • Nursing homes 
    • Offices 
    • Oil refineries 
    • Retail 
    • Sanitary landfills 
    • Self-Storage properties 
    • Telecommunications 
    • Warehousing

Mayer Brown also has significant experience in tax abatements, tax incentives and tax exemption litigation. We are well-versed on the laws pertaining to the classification of real and personal property, knowledge of which is critical to prudent property tax management. In addition to being able to service client’s needs with the depth of a boutique property tax practice approach, our practice is supported by the broad resources of an international law firm.

Transfer Tax Management
Transfer and recordation taxes can be a significant transaction expense, particularly when large real estate portfolios are sold or exchanged. Most states, counties and municipalities throughout the nation impose a transfer tax on the privilege of transferring title to real estate. They may also impose a recordation tax on the privilege of recording deeds or instruments evidencing interests in real estate. Historically, transfer and recordation taxes could be avoided by indirect transfers of interests in real estate through the transfer of interests in partnerships specifically created to hold title to single real estate assets. Currently, because of a dire need for new tax revenue, many states, counties and municipalities impose a transfer tax on transfers of controlling interests in entities owning real estate. When transferring interests in single-purpose entities, the tax exposure is often evident. When entities owning substantial multistate real estate assets transfer stock or partial ownership interests, tax exposure can be more difficult to ascertain. Our tax team possesses a broad and unmatched understanding of such tax risks and has a thorough understanding of the structuring, planning, minimization and litigation of transfer and recordation tax matters. We carefully guide and advise our clients on how best to minimize transfer/recordation tax impositions and exposure.
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