Thursday, 28 January 2010 by Advantax
I love a cold beer on a hot day…… a hot beer on a cold day, not so much. According to Larimer County Colorado, Anheuser-Busch is handing them a hot beer on a cold day….a slap in the face. AB is challenging the property tax assessment on its Ft. Collins plant, claiming the $90 million value is too high and a $50 million value is more appropriate. The county is questioning why AB never appealed In the past and why the new owner of AB, InBev, is appealing. Articles on the appeal credit the county with such statements as “We have a new company that is coming in and gaming the system” and “This company would be paying less than its fair share, and everyone else will be paying more than their fair share” and “I think that’s a crappy thing for an employer in Larimer County to do” – Such harsh accusations, not to mention the language.
Now, I’m not privy to all of the facts and assumptions each side is making in their case, or the merits of each case. However, isn’t the discussion and debating of values the reason we have the appeals process…. so that each taxpayer pays only their fair share of the property tax burden? Since when did appealing your property taxes become “gaming” the system? Just because a value hasn’t been appealed in the past doesn’t mean the value is correct – it may just mean that nobody cared or got around to appealing it in the past. If the taxpayer was overpaying in the past, does that mean they should continue to overpay going forward? I’ve seen lots of “crappy” things in my life…. And appealing property taxes is not one of them.
The plant says “we review assessments on our property nationwide on an annual basis and in the current economic climate realize that market values have declined” and “we seek to work with the county to pay our share” – so let them appeal….. it is their right to have their case heard. AB has chosen to skip the local Board of Equalization and go directly to the Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals. According to the articles, Larimer County doesn’t like this. One article describes the Colorado Board of Assessment as “a group often known to reduce assessed values”. Excuse me but isn’t that part of their job? As an objective third party, they listen to both sides of the story and rule to sustain or lower the value based on the merits of the case.
According to the articles the buildings are 1.811 million square feet on 125 acres of land. At $91,798,000 (the county’s value) this equates to about $51 per square foot. At $50,000,000 (the taxpayers estimate of value) this equates to about $28 per square foot. There’s your range of value… now debate it at the Colorado Board of Assessment….. Not in the press! And when all is settled, enjoy a cold, refreshing beer together.