Garfield County included in Walmart’s statewide lawsuit against 32 counties
Walmart is suing Garfield County, along with 31 other Colorado counties, for allegedly overestimating property values.
Walmart Inc., claims that various counties failed to consider market forces, like competition from Amazon and other online retailers, when evaluating the property value of 95 Colorado Walmart stores.
The principal complaint is that the Garfield County Board of Equalization, which determines property values for tax purposes, overestimates the value of Walmart’s “personal property,” which includes refrigerators, checkout machines, and food service appliances, among other things.
When a Walmart store decides to replace the equipment, the sale of the used property floods the open market, according to Walmart’s complaint.
When combined with “the overwhelming number” of competing stores closing, the demand for used retail equipment drops so that “the sale prices Walmart is receiving for its used personal property in Colorado are a mere fraction of the replacement cost new of such items.”
Walmart claims those external forces are not reflected in Garfield County’s valuation of store assets.
Walmart claims there is precedent for their version of property assessment based on a 2003 case where Xerox Corp. sued a county commission in Colorado.
The boards of adjustment in the 32 counties failed to account for the normal economic conditions “which are now adversely affecting actual sale prices for Walmart’s used personal property,” according to the lawsuit.
The value of Walmart’s Glenwood Springs location, as determined by the Garfield County Assessor, increased from $5.58 million in 2018 to $6.38 million in 2019. The Rifle Walmart’s value decreased from $6.15 million in 2018 to $6.06 million in the 2019 valuation.
The lawsuit requests that the two Walmart stores in Garfield County be reassessed “to an amount proven at trial,” and for the county to pay legal fees and any other relief that seems fair to the court.
Garfield County Assessor Jim Yellico said that Walmart must pay taxes in different ways in different states, and doubts that Walmart’s legal challenge in Colorado will succeed.
“I would expect that by the time Walmart’s lawyers thoroughly study the Colorado property tax system, they will realize the assessors are correctly following the law. I don’t predict the lawsuit going very far,” Yellico said in a statement.
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