Working it out

Walmart, Houghton to avoid Michigan Tax Tribunal hearing

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette The City of Houghton and Walmart have agreed to forego a Michigan Tax Tribunal hearing in the hopes of reaching an agreement regarding the taxable value of the Houghton store.

HOUGHTON — Walmart and the City of Houghton have agreed to forego a Michigan Tax Tribunal hearing that had been scheduled to start Monday on the retail giant’s request to lower its taxable value.

While both sides have stipulated to avoid the litigation, they’re still working on the terms of the resolution, City Manager Eric Waara said.

“We have a conference with our attorneys tomorrow to see what the next steps are,” he said. “It’s one thing to agree, it’s a whole other thing to make it legal.”

Walmart has sought a 60% reduction in its property taxes, as well as $1.2 million in reimbursement retroactive to 2018. Walmart began trying to get its taxes lowered that year, but put its request in abeyance after the Father’s Day Flood.

Waara said he could not comment further because the agreement had not been finalized, and because of the city’s suit against Walmart in federal court. The city said Walmart’s efforts to lowr its taxes renege on the terms of a development agreement Walmart made with Houghton when it expanded to become a Supercenter in the 2000s.

Walmart has sought to lower the valuation of its store under the “dark store” theory, which holds that the building should be assessed based on how valuable it would be if empty. The idea gained prominence after the 2008 recession, when big-box stores closed and often left buildings dormant.


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