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Wednesday, 10th October 2007

Wal-Mart Rolls Back Property Tax Payments

Wal-Mart Rolls Back Property Tax Payments
Source: Good Jobs First

The first-ever investigation of Wal-Mart's local property tax records finds that the retail giant systematically seeks to minimize its payment of taxes that support public schools and other vital government services. That is the key finding of Rolling Back Property Tax Payments, a report released today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center in Washington, DC.
Based on a large national sample of Wal-Mart stores and a review of all of its distribution centers open as of the beginning of 2005, Good Jobs First concludes that Wal-Mart has filed assessment challenges at more than one-third of its facilities around the country. At many facilities there have been appeals in multiple years. Overall, Good Jobs First estimates that the company has filed more than 2,100 property tax challenges nationwide.
Good Jobs First found significant variation in the frequency of assessment challenges from state to state. The largest numbers, both in percentage and absolute terms, were found in Texas. More than 80 percent of the Texas stores in our random sample of Wal-Mart stores had at least one challenge. Other states found to have high appeal rates are Colorado, Kansas, California, New Hampshire and Georgia.

The states with the most frequent appeals are not always those in which Wal-Mart has the most success. While Texas has the most appeals, the company's success rate in the state has been only 43%, far below the 82% success rate in Florida, for example. In California, the state where we found the second largest number of appeals, its success rate has been even lower: 25%.

There is no evident relationship between the frequency of Wal-Mart's challenges and the property tax rates in different states. Those with the highest frequencies include Texas, which is considered to have high property taxes (it has no state income tax), and California, which because of Proposition 13 has low property taxes--as well as states not necessarily high or low.

+ Full Report (PDF; 554 KB)



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