“Wal-Mart takes its role as a corporate citizen seriously and willingly assumes its obligation to support public services through taxes.” That’s what Wal-Mart tells new communities that it is trying to woo. According to its “Community Resource Guide”, in the year that ended January, 1998, Wal-Mart paid nearly $900 million in federal, state and local taxes, and $5.5 billion in sales taxes. Yet in Wilton, NY, where Wal-Mart has a store, the company is taking the small town to court over its property tax bill. According to The Gazette newspaper, Wal-Mart has disputed its property tax bill in Wilton for the past 4 years, but this year the world’s largest retailer decided to sue the town in the New York State Supreme Court over its property assessment. Wal-Mart wants Wilton to slash its assessment from the current $7.5 million in valuation, to $3 million — a 60% tax reduction! Last year, Wal-Mart sales nationally could have paid for the entire $3.5 million annual budget of Wilton in less than 15 minutes. Because of the Wal-Mart tax break lawsuit, the taxpayers of Wilton have had to hire a “special attorney” to argue the case, plus spend $2,250 in tax dollars to have a special appraisal done. Because of the expense of defending itself against the Wal-Mart litigation, the town is also calling on the School District in Saratoga Springs, and Saratoga County to help come up with the money to defend against the Wal-Mart lawsuit, because it is the county and the school district that will lose out if Wal-Mart’s property taxes are dropped by 60%. Wal-Mart says its pays $28 million a year in local and state taxes in New York state alone, and $138.9 million in New York state sales taxes, but apparently the corporate citizen thinks it is paying the good people of Wilton too much money for the honor of serving customers there. Wal-Mart operates a total of 74 stores in New York state, including the Wal-Mart on Old Glick Road in Wilton. Wal-Mart says the taxes it pays “make a measurable impact on local communities”. In Wilton, NY, the impact is running backwards.
Wal-Mart is so proud of the taxes it pays they even have a phone number you can call to “learn more about the taxes generated by Wal-Mart”. That number is 501-273-4314. If you get a live person, ask them to give the town of Wilton a little slack. After all, they were kind enough to accept a Wal-Mart store with virtually no questions asked.