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ATLANTA – The Georgia Supreme Court this past Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta is exempt from property taxes.
A group of Fulton County taxpayers sued the Fulton Board of Tax Assessors in 2017, the year the new home of the Atlanta Falcons opened, challenging the board’s determination that the stadium property should not be taxed.
The Georgia Court of Appeals dismissed the suit in 2018 because the stadium – like its predecessor, the Georgia Dome – is owned by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, a public entity.
In appealing to the state Supreme Court, the taxpayers argued the state statue governing the Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s tax-exempt status is unconstitutional.
The defendants in the case countered that the board’s determination that the new stadium would be tax exempt was based on legal agreements the Falcons Stadium Company and the World Congress Center entered into prior to construction of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“In its order dismissing the case, the trial court addressed each of the appellants’ claims and found that the petition lacked any legal basis for recovery,” Justice John J. Ellington wrote in a unanimous 34-page opinion released on June 1.
The lawsuit over the tax-exempt status of Mercedes-Benz isn’t the only legal challenge to the stadium taxpayers have mounted. In 2015, the Georgia Supreme Court dismissed a suit challenging the issuance of $200 million in bonds to help finance the $1.4 billion stadium.