Big-Box Stores Battle Local Governments Over Property Taxes

Big-box retail stores aren’t the first to complain that their property’s uniqueness should afford them special consideration when it comes to their taxable value. Nearly a century ago, the owners of the New York Stock Exchange tried to get the building’s appraisal value lowered by arguing that the building’s unusual — and expensive — design would be of no value to any future buyer. In fact, the argument went, the building actually lowered the value of the land itself because a future buyer would be forced to shell out the money for demolition costs. While the court rejected that argument in 1928, it has become a popular case to make ever since, with varying levels of success.

There are different nuances and different case law in every state, but it can be generally said that appraisers look at three factors in determining the taxable value of property: the sale price of comparable properties, the current cost to build minus depreciation and the income generated by rents charged to tenants. Appraisers can apply a blend of these approaches to arrive at a property’s value, or place most of the weight on just a single approach.

Thanks. God bless.



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