Tax assessors have one duty and that is to figure out what a property is worth. In essence, the question they must answer is this: if this property were to be put on the market today, what would it sell for? For a long time, local assessors have punitively added inflated value to the properties owned by big box stores. This is a fact borne out in court case after court case. Until recently, these corporations haven’t minded paying a little more than their fair share. But with rising competition from online stores like Amazon and cultural movements back towards smaller, local businesses, companies can’t afford to compete with one hand tied behind their back anymore. There is simply too much at stake.
Local government officials, with their unethically over-inflated budgets suddenly shrinking, have cried foul and started a false propaganda campaign to re-label fair assessing processes as some kind of scary loophole that only corporations are allowed to use. It simply isn’t true. “They’re doing nothing different for big boxes than they are for any other property type,” according to Minnesota tax expert Mike Wedl. “There’s no loophole.”
Don’t believe the hype and scare tactics being employed by local officials. If they had assessed the properties correctly in the first place, the landowners wouldn’t have had to sue at all. Mind you, in most cases the court sides with the companies and agrees they are being overvalued. They aren’t being given a handout. It’s a refund. And once they’ve established overcharging businesses as precedent and best practices, whose business do you think they’ll come after next?