Walmart’s store in Bowling Green. The corporation hired a law firm out of St. Louis to protest the store’s tax assessment in Pike County and more than 20 other Missouri counties. Photo by Stan Schwartz

Pike is one of more than 20 counties facing a loss of tax revenue

BOWLING GREEN—County Assessor Donna Prior said Walmart sent a letter protesting its tax assessment Thursday when the County Board of Equalization was convened.

The board met July 15 and 18 to hear any protests to the tax assessments by the county assessor.

“We’re not the only place they’re doing this,” said Prior. She believes Walmart was protesting its tax assessment in at least 25 Missouri counties, possibly more. Companies, such as Walmart, are allowed to file a protest by letter if they are also protesting in other counties.

As many as three other counties convened their Board of Equalizations on the same days as Pike County, Prior said, so it was not possible for the law firm representing Walmart to be in all the locations at the same time.

She assessed the tax on the multi-state’s Bowling Green location at a little more than $5.7 million. Walmart’s protest said its property tax assessment should only be just a little more than $4.5 million.

Prior said this sometimes happens when a new person is appointed by a company to review the tax assessment for that business.

“Sometimes they believe the tax value is too high,” Prior noted.

The cost to fight the protest, she added, could cost more than what the city would loose in tax revenue. A new appraisal would have to be made and an attorney hired to fight the protest.

“And that is expensive. The county does not have the money for a fight like this,” she said.

There is a possibility that Pike County could band together with the other counties that are facing the same protest, as was done when the utility Ameren fought its tax assessment in multiple counties.

 “We can still talk to them about this,” Prior said. She was meetings most of the day and did not know if the law firm representing Walmart had responded to her query.

A spokesperson for Walmart could not be reached before presstime.


Heritage Place protests too

Walmart was not the only protest being made Thursday. According to Prior, Heritage Place also protested its tax assessment.

“The attorney representing Heritage Place said the community is considered low-income housing and should get tax credits under section 42 of the tax code,” she explained.

Because of this, the tax assessment was changed before the hearing took place.

“I could not do anything about it,” she said. This is the first time the county was faced with a company that provided low-income housing, she noted.

For some Pike County communities, she added, the loss of tax revenue could have an impact on their school budgets.

The exact amount of change won’t be known until the final assessment is made.

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