AUGUSTA — An invoice from Rep. Ann Matlack, D-St. George, which clarifies state law for municipal assessors and property owners and improves assessment fairness statewide became law earlier this week.

In Maine, municipal assessors are responsible for determining the value of properties on which to base property taxes, and property owners have the right to appeal the determined value.

In recent years, some large corporations have begun to use this appeals process to defend property values ​​significantly lower than those determined by municipalities. Referred to as the “black store” theory, big box retailers appeal the estimated value of their property based on comparisons with stores that have closed and sold for significantly less than their previous value.

“Big corporations take their newly built properties and compare their value to closed and abandoned stores,” Matlack said. “It involves hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes. These big-box stores want the benefits of municipal services, such as police and fire protection, sewer and water services, and well-maintained roads, while shifting their share of the costs onto the rest of the taxpayers land. This law ensures that local appraisers have the tools they need to support their determination of the fair value of these properties.

Written in consultation with Maine appraisers, LD 1129 gives Maine municipalities the opportunity to clarify what makes a similar property comparable.

To learn more about this issue, read these two articles originally published by The Maine Monitor and republished by the Penobscot Bay Pilot:

‘Black Store’ Theory: Big Retailers Push to Cut Millions in Property Taxes

Kerry Leichtman, state tax review board hopes for turnaround amid backlog

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