Local News

High court sides with borough over tax dispute

The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that a Ketchikan man must pay local property tax, even though his home was built with Bureau of Indian Affairs grant funds, and is held temporarily under a deed of trust.

According to the Supreme Court opinion, Frederick Williams claimed that under the grant and deed of trust, the federal government owns his Stedman Street home. Therefore, he claimed, he should be exempt from paying property tax.

In a lower court ruling, the Superior Court rejected that argument. That court upheld the Ketchikan Gateway Borough’s argument that the deed of trust did not divest Williams of ownership responsibilities. Williams is the record property owner.

On appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling.

The grant to rebuild the home was awarded in 2002.  The deed of trust will expire after 20 years, along with any repayment requirements.

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