U.S. Supreme Court

Diplomatic Property-Tax Case Allowed

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that foreign governments are not immune to suits for payment of local property taxes.

“Property ownership is not an inherently sovereign function,” said the majority opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas.

The court ruled 7-2 for New York City, which is seeking back property taxes of $16.4 million from India and $2.1 million from Mongolia for homes located in their diplomatic missions, the Associated Press reports.

The countries claim U.S. courts have no jurisdiction to hear the case.

But Thomas wrote that immunity does not extend to disputes over “rights in immovable property.”

The ruling is Permanent Mission of India v. City of New York</i, No. 06–134.

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