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comment by wasoxygen
wasoxygen  ·  93 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Cory Doctorow: Big Box stores' other shoe drops

The Marquette Lowe’s is “generating roughly $30 million in annual sales” with sales tax of 6% that store enables Michigan to capture $1.8M from customers every year.

That should help Marquette cover the one-time $755,828 refund and continue yanking the library budget up and down as they have for years.





mk  ·  93 days ago  ·  link  ·  

But that sales tax goes to the State, not Marquette.

wasoxygen  ·  92 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Fair point.

So Lowe's is paying tax to the state.

Doctorow alleges that "National chains pay little or no federal income tax" and, with the typical laziness of #anticorporatebigotry jounalism, provides no evidence. "Lowe's annual income taxes for 2021 were $1.904B, a 41.88% increase from 2020."

So that's federal. What about local?

Lowe's does not set the local tax rate. The tax rate is set by Marquette Township, and property valuations are determined by a public assessor.

Property owners can ask the Michigan Tax Tribunal to review an assessment following an established procedure. A review board can also correct assessments which were incorrectly set too low.

I don't see anything wrong with Lowe's hiring people ("corrupt tax-experts"!) to look for grounds to ask for a lower assessment. When I file my taxes, I look for legal ways to reduce the amount owed. Sometimes, like with the mortgage interest deduction, it seems strange that I am getting a break now but not when I was a renter. But I don't make the rules.

Most property tax revenue comes from residential housing. Homeowners don't especially profit from sleeping indoors, but it is typical that they build equity and hope to eventually sell the house at a profit. So True Cash Value of the structure is the basis for assessments, and it is irrelevant whether a commercial property is making a profit.

    Instead of opting for the usual assessment formula (building costs minus depreciation), they demand assessment based on the sale price of "comparable" properties. Then, they argue that the relevant "comparable" properties are shuttered, abandoned big box stores.

Doctorow is outraged that this strategy works, but I am not clear what he believes should happen. "Building costs minus depreciation" is not the standard that applies, and Lowe's is demanding that the assessment follow the rules as they are written. Doctorow seems to accept that big box stores are so customized to the retailer (along with deed restrictions, similar to those that require a house to be part of an HOA) that the buildings have very low resale value. What comps should the assessor consider, if not similar big box structures that have been put up for sale after closing for business?

"Marquette Township Supervisor Lyn Durant said one of the most frustrating things to municipalities is that assessors are following applicable state law in their valuations of all properties."

Perhaps they should update the rules, as other jurisdictions are doing. That story doesn't make much of a headline, though.

Like Spears on a Plane, like phosphorus, if you paint a corporation as evil and greedy, with regular people as the victims, the readers will lap it up.

What happens if Marquette updates the rule and Lowe's has to start paying more property tax? Is Mr. Lowe going to dig into his deep pockets? Not likely, Lucius Smith Lowe died in 1940. The corporation will remit the payments, but the burden will fall on the customers. All the revenue Lowe's uses to cover expenses comes from customers.

“The problem with the big stores dropping their taxable value is that the burden falls to the resident to have them pay everything,” Durant said. But the burden is already on the residents to pay for their library.

These breathless articles are always casual with the facts. The source, published in June 2015, opened with a tear-jerker:

    In February, the library in Marquette, Mich., announced that it was cutting its hours.

Lowe's was immediately blamed for the budget crunch, with the "new method that big-box stores are using to game the tax system".

But the library released the statement Why the Library is suddently closing on Sundays on February 18 (and conspicuously linked to it from the home page) which put most of the blame on a property reassessment granted to Marquette General Hospital. Is a hospital (even one recently acquired by for-profit Duke LifePoint) not sufficiently corporate to raise reader ire?

The typical Hubski user probably gives more than half their income to corporations, by choice, in return for incredible bounty. It's just as silly to love them as to hate them, but the hate is, in my view, strikingly misplaced.

kleinbl00  ·  92 days ago  ·  link  ·  

✅ whataboutism

✅ false equivalency

✅ externality burial

✅ character assassination

✅ appeal to greater morality

You aren't saying anything. you spent what, two hours performing the Libertarian Dance of the Seven Veils around the fact that you're wrong but you still believe you're right? Look - "in a perfect system everything works" is not a valid rejoinder to the argument that the system is broken. You do this with tawdry regularity - "but there are laws!" in response to any argument that parties lack equal access to legal protection. I'm sure you do try to minimize your taxes. So do I. Fact of the matter is, Lowe's can do that more effectively because they're a giant corporation. 1.9 billion dollars in taxes? Ayn Rand must be spinning in her grave. Except oh wait they did 90 billion in sales. That's 2.1 percent, lower than the sales tax for any place in the united states that charges sales tax. if you bought an outlet cover from Lowe's in the United States, you paid more taxes to buy that outlet than Lowe's paid to sell it.

keep talkin' bout choice tho

Devac  ·  91 days ago  ·  link  ·  

OK, hold up.

    I don't see anything wrong with Lowe's hiring people ("corrupt tax-experts"!) to look for grounds to ask for a lower assessment. When I file my taxes, I look for legal ways to reduce the amount owed. Sometimes, like with the mortgage interest deduction, it seems strange that I am getting a break now but not when I was a renter.

So, dwelling for clearly non-insignificant time on minutia of taxation is A-OK in your book, but spending maybe an hour or two on researching energy/water ratings on lasting-more-than-fiscal-year home appliances is some recondite voodoo normal people shouldn't be expected to handle on their own? How does that work?

wasoxygen  ·  90 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think customers should consider energy usage. Older appliances could cost more in energy than they did to purchase.

I question whether government-sponsored programs like Energy Star and the EU energy label are a net benefit to customers. With Energy Star, it seemed clear that manufacturers use the blue stickers to promote more expensive (and often, less energy efficient) models. The EU system may well have the same issue, as well as being confusing with its major recalibrations.

The Energy Star approval of a gasoline-powered alarm clock does not improve my confidence.

kleinbl00  ·  90 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Right. See, you found an example of what is legally known as fraud. Fraud is bad. Fraud is against the law.

Lowe's tax strategies have been found to be fraudulent. Fraud is bad. Fraud is against the law.

Here's the thing: the gas-powered alarm clock never existed. It was part of a sting instituted by the GAO to improve the Energy Star program. That's regulators improving their regulation for the betterment of manufacturing and commerce. Lowe's?

that's just business.

So here you are, raising up a sting operation by the government to improve governance as an example of government overreach, while being entirely okay with consumer abuse by corporations and I mean, you're a smart guy. You pay attention. You have bright things to say and you have a keen eye for detail but the minute the argument is economic you become so fucking facile it's infuriating.

What I think you refuse to understand is that when you debate other people as if they have the worldliness of 8-year-olds you are fundamentally putting forth the impression that you hold literally everyone else in utter contempt and do not feel we are worthy of a good-faith debate. I don't give a fuck how you vote or how you live or what you read or the air you breathe or the water you drink but when you come into these conversations with a "fucking magnets how do they work"-level of rhetoric it derails everything in a stupidly avoidable way. You don't actually believe any of this shit, you've just learned that your ideas are easier to defend if you obfuscate and deflect every time someone questions your logic.

Stop it.

wasoxygen  ·  93 days ago  ·  link  ·  

N.b. third column from right is Q1 2019, other columns are actual or estimated year totals.

    The Peter White Public Library would now be closed on Sundays.

The library was closed for Covid. When it reopened the schedule was Monday to Saturday with limited hours.