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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Loophole allowing some retailers to pay property tax as if vacant.

The dark store tax argument.  The underlying argument is millions of dollars have been spent to build a large box for a particular store.  County property appraisers will then value the property based on the purchase price of the land plus the cost of construction, less depreciation.  The property owner will then argue that the property should be valued based on comparable sales of similar properties, the way a house is valued for tax purposes.


Over the past four years, many stores such as Lowe's and Target, have fought this fight. In most cases the stores have prevailed, saving millions of dollars in property taxes, according to the National Association of Counties.  
The store has a duty to their investors to watch their bottom line and pay their fair share.  They are arguing that they are being over assessed and winning.  


In Marquette, MI, the local Lowe's which built a store two years ago for $10 million argued that it really should be valued at $3.5 million.  They argued that the resale value of other shuttered big-box stores throughout the state should determine the value, not the cost of construction.  This resulted in a cut by two-thirds and Marquette had to return about $450,000 back to Lowe's.  Their current tax bill was also lowered by more than $150,000 a year.  

Where lies the correct number?  Construction, value-in-use, as vacant, or a blending of all of the above?  

While we at Property Tax Appeal Group have made this argument, it is difficult for the county to change how they value a particular type of construction or use after so many years of consistent valuations.  

For more information on this subject you may check out www.bloomberg.com

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