This June 1, 2017, file photo, shows a Walmart sign at a store in Hialeah Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File) Witnesses sparred over appraisal methods Thursday in Walmart’s appeal to cut its Pulaski County tax assessments by nearly half, as a two-day hearing on what’s viewed as Arkansas’ “dark store” theory test case concluded. Tax assessors nationwide have used the phrase — barely mentioned by name during the hearing — to deride the legal argument that big-box retail stores should be valued, for tax purposes, as if they are closed and vacant. About $4.5 million in annual tax revenue is directly at stake in this case, according to the county tax assessor’s office. More than $100 million in local tax revenue would be at risk if Walmart and other big-box retailers use the argument to challenge assessments throughout Arkansas, said Washington County Assessor Russell Hill, an ardent opponent of the theory. Retailers argue that their buildings are so customized to specific needs that they cannot fetch a price on the open market that is comparable to their tax valuations. Opponents contend that the alternative means potentially undervaluing a bustling Little Rock store by tying its worth to a vacant,… Read full this story
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