William F. Grace, Jr., an expert in Louisiana state and New Orleans tax law, is a managing partner of Chaffe, McCall, Phillips, Toler & Sarpy, a law firm that is retained by Tulane University in civil lawsuits.

In 1998, Grace and three associates formed United Governmental Services of Louisiana, Inc., which contracted with the City of New Orleans to collect delinquent property taxes.  In just four years, the group earned $12.1 million in fees, paid as penalties by delinquent taxpayers whom the group dunned for collection of back taxes [1].

Grace's knowledge of taxes and Louisiana politics (he was a Morial appointee to the Sewerage & Water Board) has served him well.  His agency "donated handsomely" to election campaigns of the district tax assessors of its members who, in turn, received equally handsome breaks on their property assessments.  Thus, Grace's Victorian mansion at Third Street and St. Charles Avenue had been assessed by 4th District Assessor Betty Jefferson at only one-third of its $1.5 million mortgage [2].

Tulane University itself pays no taxes on its real estate and commercial holdings [3].  Tulane is fortunate to count among its allies a tax expert dedicated to ensuring that everyone else pays their fair share of taxes.  Hail Rex! [4]

  1. Gordon Russell and Susan Finch, "Morial's allies share millions collecting back taxes; Lawsuit is challenging partnership's 30 percent fee," The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, March 17, 2002, p. A-1.

    For revelations about the political dealmaking that was involved, see: Gordon Russell, "Morial name linked to city contract; Firm got deal, then hired mayor's brother," The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, April 8, 2007, p. A-1.

  2. Gordon Russell, "Dubious value: why New Orleans property taxes are unfair; Insiders, especially those who donate to assessors' campaigns, are more likely to have undervalued property," The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, April 5, 2004, p. A-1 (part 2 of 3).

  3. Ed Anderson, "Tulane tax exemption targeted; Lawmaker files bill to end some breaks," The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, February 28, 2002, p. A-2.

  4. Gordon Russell, "Tax law ruled unconstitutional; 30 percent penalty set on delinquencies," The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, October, 5, 2007, Metro, p. 1.

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