Big Box Property Values
By: Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting-October 7, 2015
A panel of lawmakers is grappling with a growing controversy over how property tax values of so-called “big box” stores –like Walmart, Kroger and Walgreens – are assessed.
The big box assessment issue is a complex one, but roughly boils down to this: should big box stores be taxed according to their value as used by their current owner or by their value if sold? Counties – and county assessors – say it should be the former, the so-called “value in-use.” But the big box stores want to be assessed by how much they could get for their stores if they’re sold – typically a much lower amount. And a series of Indiana Tax Court rulings have been using the big box stores’ preferred method – so much so that Allen County Assessor Stacey O’Day says she’s stopped appealing:
“I mean, I have to pick my battles and I don’t think that I can spend tax dollars – my tax dollar money – on that knowing what I feel the end result’s going to be,” Said O’Day.
Real estate appraiser Tom Morlan said the assessment system is in desperate need of reform and wants guidance from the legislature:
“It’s not working very well. Everybody’s lawyered up and this has turned into ugly – really ugly,” Said Morlan.
A legislative study committee could have a recommendation in the coming weeks for how the General Assembly should proceed on the big box assessment issue.