September 16, 2019
Walmart last week filed an appeal to the Circuit Court in their continued fight to utilize the dark store theory in the state. In their filing, the big-box retailer noted that Pulaski County’s valuations “rely upon inaccurate or misapplied data and methodologies. “At the County Court hearing, Walmart presented comprehensive independent appraisals to support its value position, (…) The Assessor presented no documentary evidence whatsoever.”
The Assessor presented no documentary evidence whatsoever.”– Walmart petitions to the Circuit Court
The dark store theory is a continually utilized and challenged theory across the country recently, and the retailers contend that because of the uniqueness of their property, the physical real estate would never be sold for the true taxable value of the property. Because these are highly customized, a new big-box retailer is oftentimes better off to find land a build a new site as opposed to retrofitting an old retailer space.
The taxable dollars being fought over are projected at $900,000 in taxable revenue, as opposed to the earlier reported $4.5 million that was at issue. There are a total of 10 properties, 8 Walmart Supercenters and two Sam’s Club stores in question. The main cause for the incorrect projected revenue was because Arkansas has a 20% assessment ratio. Meaning that only 20% of the “market value” of the property is taxable.
This court case will again help set precedent in the state and one that many other states will be watching in the fight to utilize the dark store theory.