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Assessor: Estimated Tax Revenue Created by Walmart in Watertown Would Drop by Two-Thirds

A change in the way the company files taxes means it would stop paying personal property tax to the town, and would drop from an estimated $300,000 to $100,000.

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. , 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, 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.

John MacNeill January 23, 2012 at 08:52 PM
A company with headquarters in Arkansas can incorporate in our state; magically becoming a "domestic corporation" and eligble for tax breaks intended for Massachusetts companies. Good to know.
WallSmart January 23, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Wrong again Mac. Try reading before commenting. "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."
John MacNeill January 23, 2012 at 09:07 PM
For crying out loud. Click the link. "A tax break for Walmart means higher taxes for residents, according to assessors in several area communities. Wal-Mart Associates Inc. is headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., but stores incorporated in Massachusetts become domestic corporations — eligible for tax breaks — and it appears that many of the state’s Walmarts have recently taken advantage of those breaks."
John MacNeill January 23, 2012 at 09:16 PM
>>Maybe your brain froze standing out in the cold on Saturday. Didn't attend. But thanks again for another valuable contribution to the discussion.
WallSmart January 23, 2012 at 09:28 PM
You are more than welcome Mac. Someday you will realize that there is more to shaping local opinion than cutting and pasting "links" If you bothered to do a bit of analysis you would note that the change in filing status was mandatory. You see Mac Walmart Inc. is a corporation. Once again very slowly: "Beginning Jan. 1, 2009 companies in Massachusetts must use the same tax classification when state taxes as is used when filing federal taxes."
John MacNeill January 23, 2012 at 09:46 PM
>>Someday you will realize that there is more to shaping local opinion... True enough. Before reading your useful and relevant posts, I didn't care about Wal-Mart one way or the other. So, thanks again. Bottom line; current estimates for town revenue are 1/3 of what we've been told previously. And that's without including the loss from local businesses that will go under. Nail in the coffin.
WallSmart January 23, 2012 at 09:55 PM
"Bottom line; current estimates for town revenue are 1/3 of what we've been told" Told by whom? Anyway Mike Mandel was pounding nails when he thought the tax revenue was US$500k. He would continue pounding if the revenue was US$50 mil. Finally, I am gratified that my "useful and relevant posts" made you a caring individual. You made my day Mac !
RubyTuesday January 24, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Charlie, When do you plan to rein in the insulting comments of you know who ^. I think some of your readers are hesitant to post because it inevitably lead to a snarky response from our pal. As I post this, I am well prepared for the splenetic comments that will follow.
WallSmart January 24, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Definition of SPLENETIC. 1. archaic : given to melancholy. Mea culpa, I resolve henceforth to be much more cheerful :)
Daniel Winter January 24, 2012 at 02:41 PM
What about the fact that the land on which a Walmart is located, would not the property taxes increase because the value has increased?
Brian McCormick January 24, 2012 at 06:29 PM
The article seems to be only addressing personal property taxes and not real estate taxes. I'd like to see a study on the total tax revenue gain/loss as a result of the proposed store. It should take into account the potential drop in property values for the residential properties in the area.
WallSmart January 24, 2012 at 07:00 PM
A cursory examination of the residential property in the area on Patriot Properties reveals that the residences are already assessed significantly lower than comparable properties in adjacent neighborhoods. This is likely due to the fact that the area is mixed use, the properties are predominately aged rental units and that they are poorly maintained. In all likelihood the renovation of the derelict industrial site will have a small positive impact on assessed valuations, by making the area more attractive to aging residents wishing to be within walking distance of shopping and services.
Charlie Breitrose (Editor) January 24, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Daniel, thanks for the comment. From my discussion with Assessor Frank Golden, my understanding is the $100,000 increase in tax revenues would come from property tax (rather thank personal property tax). The $100,000 is ADDITIONAL tax revenue, not the total for the property.
Bill_Ch January 31, 2012 at 02:59 PM
That is a completely invalid conclusion based on incorrect or incomplete data. What evidence do you have that the nearby properties are aged rental units and poorly maintained? While the information on the Patriot web site states whether a property is single or multi-family, it doesn't specify anything about the condition of the property or the units within. How many properties did you examine and on which streets were they located? And if, by "adjacent neighborhoods" you mean the area between the Oakley Country Club and Mt. Auburn Street. well then yes, of course assessments are less than they are there. That's the fanciest part of town. I live in an abutting neighborhood to the Walmart site (my house is about 400 feet away), and I don't see evidence of poorly maintained properties or, for that matter a lot of elderly residents. I ask again, to which streets do you refer and how did you determine that the units were aged and poorly maintained?
WallSmart January 31, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Ignorant of the study methodology yet you pronounce the conclusion invalid. Obviously you drink at the Watertown Spring. While I doubt that anything will overcome your bias, the following is a brief synopsis of the analysis: (1) The study area was segmented into a series of grids originating at the proposed site and extending one kilometer in all directions. The properties were within the study area were then assigned reference numbers based upon their grid and GPS location. (2) Data was downloaded from Patriot Properties, Mass Land Records, Watertown Department of Community Development/Planning for all properties. Data was also utilized where available from the WPD and WFD. (3) Utilizing data from the US Census Bureau and the Association of Public Data Users a demographic profile of the study area was established. Two other areas within Watertown with similar profiles were identified for use as controls. Data for the controls was then compiled as described in (2) above. (4) A comparison was then made of various characteristics of the study area and the two control areas. The results were as stated originally. The study area contains a significantly larger number of rental properties (two standard deviations), and a significantly larger number of properties (three standard deviations) which have not been repaired and/or renovated within the past seven (7) years.
Bill_Ch February 01, 2012 at 05:05 AM
That's very impressive. If that's your idea of cursory, I can't imagine what you would consider a *detailed* analysis. Seems like a lot of time consuming work for a single person How many people are on your team? I'd love to see the analyzed data you used to reach your conclusions. As if. Nobody here believes you (although I truly am impressed at the time you must have wasted composing your analysis methodology).
Wallsmarts February 01, 2012 at 03:16 PM
The exact response that I expected...let's not confuse the issue with facts. In reality, with a bit of training and the right tools data mining is child's play. My results will be made available when public hearings begin. Until then enjoy your "stand outs". I do love the comment "Nobody here believes you". Good to know that you speak for all the local sheep drinking from Watertown Spring. But seriously, what are you doing posting at midnight? Walmart phobia induced insomnia ?
Bill_Ch February 01, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Why wait until the meeting? If you are so sure of your data, why not post it now so it can be examined beforehand?
Wallsmarts February 01, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Hilarious ! "Nobody here believes you... post it now so it can be examined..." Can you say cognitive dissonance ? I'm paid well for what I do, unlike the sheep who stand around in the cold waving yard signs. My data will be made available in the appropriate forum. Stay tuned.
Bill_Ch February 01, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Now we're havin' fun. No cognitive dissonance here. I just don't believe you have any such data. But let's pretend for a moment that you actually did do such research. Are you claiming that someone paid you to do it? Did they also pay you to insult other people and their opinions? I've always wondered how much Walmart pays their corporate mouthpieces. I think you should ask them for a raise. Oh wait, the Walton family is down to their last $93 billion, so money might be tight. So do you have any reasons for actually wanting to see a Walmart in Watertown? I think we would all like to hear them. Or is that not in your Walmart job description?
Wallsmarts February 01, 2012 at 07:07 PM
"Did they also pay you to insult other people and their opinions?" Only those who find the truth to be insulting.
Bill_Ch February 02, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Well, at least you're getting paid for something. So why do you want a Walmart in Watertown?

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