April 9, 2014 – Walgreens will get another shot to challenge property tax assessments imposed by the City of Oshkosh, even though the pharmacy did not properly object to the assessments and such objection is generally required under state statute.
Walgreens Co. has two stores in Oshkosh, and every year since 2007, Walgreens has challenged the city’s tax assessments as excessive. In 2010, the city’s assessments on both store locations amounted to almost $6 million.
Walgreens objected to the 2010 assessments, as required under Wis. Stat. section 70.47(7). However, Walgreens did not properly object to the same assessment amounts the following year, in 2011, and the city’s board of review refused to hear the objections.
The circuit court dismissed Walgreens’ suit, ruling that a timely objection was not made for the 2011 assessments. But a state appeals court recently reversed.
In Walgreen Co. v. City of Oshkosh, 2013AP1610 (April 2, 2014), a three-judge panel for the District II Appeals Court ruled that a narrow exception may apply and it’s possible that Walgreens was not required to file an objection to the 2011 assessments.
The panel noted that a section 70.47(7) objection is not necessary if the previous year’s assessment is under challenge when the board of review first meets to discuss current year objections, and the current year’s assessment is the same as the previous year.
“The linchpin to the exception is the knowledge on the part of the taxing district that the assessment amount is still disputed, which excuses the need for another objection,” wrote Judge Paul Reilly, citing the 1999 court decision that created the exception.
However, the panel noted that the record did not reveal whether Walgreens’ 2010 objection was still pending when the board of review first met for 2011 assessments.
It remanded the case for a determination on whether the 2010 assessments were still pending when the board first met to decide the 2011 assessment objections.