Princeton University Property Tax Case Hearing Postponed

A property tax case brought by some residents against Princeton University that was slated to go to court this Thursday has been postponed until Oct. 17.

“With the agreement of all parties and the judge, the starting date for the property tax litigation has been rescheduled from October 6 to October 17,” a plaintiff in the case told Planet Princeton.

The parties were still in active settlement negotiations earlier this week.

Residents are challenging the Ivy League school’s tax-exempt status for several properties. The case is being watched closely by leaders of education institutions and other non-profits across the state, and has received national attention.

Initially four Princeton residents filed two lawsuits, one challenging the tax-exempt status of various Princeton University properties in the 2011 tax year, and the second challenging Princeton University’s tax exemption in the 2014 tax year. More than a dozen residents from the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood signed on to the lawsuit this year.

Residents decided to challenge the tax exempt status of various Princeton University properties after examining the results of the 2010 Princeton property revaluation.

They contend that Princeton University should be paying property taxes on many buildings that are currently tax exempt, because the buildings have commercial functions. Their lawyer is arguing that the school has evolved into a hybrid, and is operating retail food establishments, ticketing operations and numerous other commercial operations. The school also receives royalties for patents, and some of the profits are distributed to faculty members.

Representatives for Princeton University have argued that all the money made by the school is intended to support the school’s educational mission, and thus the school should not pay taxes on any of the buildings.