THOMASTON — Walmart has appealed to the state to get property tax breaks for the past two years totaling nearly $340,000 from Thomaston.
The Thomaston Board of Assessors voted in the spring to reject the request of the international retail giant to cut its property valuation by nearly half. Walmart then appealed to the state.
Thomaston Assessor’s Agent David Martucci said Oct. 31 that a hearing has yet to be scheduled by the Maine Board of Property Tax Review. The town and Walmart participated in state-required mediation but Martucci said no agreement was reached.
Any decision of the state board can be appealed to state court.
Walmart is the town’s second-highest property taxpayer.
The Thomaston Walmart store opened in October 2013, relocating from Rockland.
The 2019-2020 assessment on Walmart’s store and land in Thomaston totals $15.5 million with a tax bill of $392,000.
Cement manufacturer Dragon Products is the top taxpayer in town with a bill for 2018-2019 of $1,646,080.
Walmart is seeking to have its assessment for 2018-2019 reduced from $15,464,000 to $7.4 million. This would cut its tax bill by $168,780. A similar request for its 2018-2019 assessment has also been sought by Walmart.
The Maine Center for Economic Policy issued a report on Thursday, Oct. 31 on how big-box stores are trying to get tax breaks in the state. The report stated that large retailers are” ramping up their challenges of local assessments in an effort to secure tax cuts”
The report lists Walmart, Lowe’s, Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, and BJ’s, stating they have requested $184 million in valuation reductions since 2015.
“Across the country, the large retailers that own big-box stores have used this dubious legal theory to challenge local assessments, arguing they should be taxed as if their properties were shuttered and vacant ‘dark stores’ — even while they’re open for business and raking in revenue,” said Sarah Austin, MECEP policy analyst and the report’s author. “It’s an effort by major corporations to manipulate the tax code so they pay less, leaving towns and other property taxpayers holding the bill.”
The Board of Assessors signed a settlement agreement in April 2017 with Lowe’s Home Centers LLC that ended that retailer’s abatement requests, but also lowered the company’s tax assessment for its Thomaston property from $15.6 million to $14,352,000 for three years.