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Court upholds property taxes for campus residents

STANFORD -- The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday, Feb. 27, that faculty and staff who lease campus houses must continue to pay property taxes.

The ruling came in a case involving about 200 faculty and staff at the University of California-Irvine, who sought exemptions from the taxes. A lower court had ruled in favor of the Irvine plaintiffs, citing a provision of the state constitution that excludes from taxation any property that is "used exclusively for public schools, community colleges, state colleges (or) state universities."

The Supreme Court overturned that ruling, saying that leased housing on land owned by a tax-exempt institution may be tax exempt only if the housing is essential to the purpose of the institution.

Neither Stanford nor any of its 856 leaseholders were directly involved in the legal battle. The Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders' Association in 1991 did file a claim for an exemption that could have been invoked by individual leaseholders, but only if the court had upheld the earlier ruling.

That step was taken only as a legal precaution, said Dan De Young, president of the association.

"The homeowners feel like they should pay their taxes like anyone else," De Young added.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments from, among others, representatives of the Palo Alto Unified School District, which benefits from property taxes collected at Stanford.



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