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Wed January 11, 2012
Walmart's Tax Breaks in Massachusetts are Upsetting Local Governments
By Lucas Willard
Pittsfield, MA –
North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright noticed not so long ago, a big chunk of revenue missing from the town's budget sheets.
Overall, this means Walmart will be paying about $140,000 less in taxes this year in North Adams. How? Walmart recently changed its tax classification in Massachusetts from a Limited Partnership to a Corporation. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 59, a corporation only needs to claim personal property values under what's essential to run as a business - including electrical wiring and piping...so all non-essential items like the inventory and shelving, no longer need to be factored in to determine value as when previously classified as a Limited Partnership.
The switch will save the Walmart stores a large amount of money, and is perfectly legal.
Pittsfield Ward-6 City Counselor John Krol thinks the move by his city's own store needs to be looked at, a fixture of the Pittsfield retail market for several years.
In Pittsfield, that tax break will account for a drop in tax revenues from Walmart from $187,000 last year, to only $24,500 this year. Krol thinks that while communities need to stay business friendly, Big Box stores should not be the ones to gain such big breaks, especially in an area so dependent on small business.
Richard Alcombright says while he welcomes the jobs the company provides, the cuts from the North Adams Walmart will shift the tax burden onto the residents.
Loss of other business will lead to rising taxes in North Adams, too, but hit from the move from the nation's largest retailer will certainly be felt.
State Representative Gail Cariddi whose district includes the North Adams Walmart, said there is currently no legislation on record to deal with the issue.
Still, Krol and Alcombright said they will continue to gather support within their respective municipalities and stay on top of the issue.
Recently, Walmart purchased more land in North Adams to construct a new Supercenter, just a few miles away.