A change in the way Walmart files its federal taxes means the estimated tax revenue coming to Watertown would drop by two-thirds, should a store be built here, Town Assessor Francis Golden said.
Walmart had been paying personal property tax on the inventory in stores which were classified as limited partnerships.
“Personal property will no longer be taxable, so it takes the wind out of the sails out of the projections that (a Walmart) would be bringing us the same tax dollars that had been in my estimate in October,” Golden said. “Two-thirds of the growth picture is now gone.”
Some have said the estimated tax growth for Watertown would be $500,000, but Golden said his estimate was lower.
“My number was around $300,000 (in tax growth for Watertown),” Golden said. “Now my number around $100,000.”
Golden noted that all his calculations were on a theoretical Walmart store being built on the land where an electronics company had been located. He got estimates from cities and towns in Massachusetts with Walmarts, and looked at the parcel that has been discussed as the spot for the store. A 97,000 square-foot store has been discussed, according to documents from the South Middlesex Registry of Deeds.
The change comes about because Walmart no longer files federal taxes as a limited partnership, but instead as a corporation. Beginning Jan. 1, 2009 companies in Massachusetts must use the same tax classification when state taxes as is used when filing federal taxes.
Communities in Massachusetts which have Walmart stores expect to see a large drop in tax revenues this year.
In Pittsfield, the city will receive $24,510 in Fiscal 2012, down nearly $187,000, according to The Berkshire Eagle. North Adams will receive $130,000 less in personal property tax from its Walmart in Fiscal 2012, according to the same article.
A Worcester Telegram & Gazette story reports that the town of Ware will lose $102,000 in personal property tax from its store, and Oxford will lose about $75,548.
Talk of a Walmart coming to town has drummed up a lot of debate in Watertown about whether residents want to see the company in town or not. On Saturday, Sustainable Watertown, a group that opposes Walmart being built in Watertown, had a rally on Arsenal Street, near the proposed Walmart site. The rally drew more than 40 people on the snowy morning, according to group member Barbara Ruskin.