Tag Archives: breaks

Memphis Paper Company Wants $57M in Tax Breaks — or Else

International Paper wants $56.9 million in tax breaks over the next 15 years and, if it doesn’t get them, threatens to move jobs out of its Memphis facility, according to the Commercial Appeal.
(If given the tax breaks) the company commits to retain 2,274 high-paying jobs in Memphis, add 101 new ones and invest $115.7 million, including construction of a fourth office tower at its East Memphis corporate headquarters.
The company has filed its application for a retention PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes. The Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) for Memphis & Shelby County is to vote on the application Wednesday.
International Paper’s application detailed the company’s options if the EDGE board were to deny the tax break.
“Move a significant number of its high-paying jobs from Memphis to Ohio, where it currently owns facilities which could house these workers — a decision that could also presage Memphis’ loss of additional existing jobs to Ohio, as well as the loss of future growth to Ohio …,” the application states.
A second option would be to move International Paper’s corporate headquarters to a newly constructed campus outside Tennessee. “This is the lowest cost option for IP …,” the document states. There’s been some speculation the company was considering a move to DeSoto County.

Golf Course Lose ‘Greenbelt’ Tax Break

Two Knox County golf courses have lost their property tax breaks, reports the News-Sentinel.
Cherokee Country Club owes $324,385 in back taxes, according to the Knox County Property Assessor’s Office, a fee applied after it recently lost a tax benefit reserved for Tennessee’s open spaces.Holston Hills Country Club will owe $53,301.
The clubs have enjoyed tax subsidies since 1983 through classification as open spaces by the property assessor, under the state’s Greenbelt Law for agriculture, open space and forestry.
After a News Sentinel inquiry to the Tennessee comptroller of the Treasury on whether the golf courses should be considered open space, general counsel Robert T. Lee wrote in an opinion Sept. 26 that “golf courses cannot qualify for open space.”
In 2011, Cherokee received a $28,921 tax break and Holston Hills took a $3,496 tax break from Knox County. The intent of the Greenbelt Law when it was implemented was to protect farmers from being taxed off their land and encourage more open space and forested areas.
Knox County Property Assessor Phil Ballard said his office will comply with Lee’s opinion, and added that a five-year rollback would be applied right away. He said that attorneys representing both courses have contacted his office.
They could have waited to the reappraisal in 2013 to pull the golf course properties out of greenbelt but, “we went ahead and done it,” Ballard said.
Mark Moon, chief operating officer at Cherokee, said the board of directors would meet this week and he expects to discuss losing greenbelt status and the rollback.
“This kind of came out of left field for us,” Moon said.

‘Greenbelt’ Law Benefiting TN Millionaires, including Bredesen, Frist, Hyde

The News Sentinel and the Commercial Appeal, in a joint review of “Greenbelt Law” records, report some of the state’s wealthiest individuals are getting big tax breaks under a program designed to help farmers preserve their land for agriculture.
The 1976 Agricultural, Forest and Open Space Land Act, or “Greenbelt Law,” is subsidizing estates and hobby farms of business icons such as AutoZone founder J.R. “Pitt” Hyde, a Memphis multimillionaire, and some of the biggest names in country music, Wynonna Judd among them. Former University of Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer qualifies by baling hay on his $2.8 million, 47-acre Maryville estate.
Generous farm and forest tax breaks are in force for estate after estate along Nashville’s tony Chickering Road, though official paperwork at the Davidson County Assessor’s Office at times provides little evidence of how the properties qualify. Among the recipients: former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a wealthy health care entrepreneur; and billionaire Thomas Frist Jr., co-founder of Hospital Corp. of America.
Even Knoxville’s private Cherokee and Holston Hills country clubs have been sheltered under the “open space” provision of the law.
In some instances, the law is actually subsidizing the land speculation it was created to combat.
In 2009, for example, Shelby County’s Johnson cut 97 percent from the value of an East Memphis field for sale for commercial development and surrounded by a 127-room Hyatt Place Hotel, ServiceMaster offices and a strip shopping center. Annual taxes on the $2.99 million, 65-acre site owned by Forest Hill Associates loomed at more than $48,000 if taxed at fair market value, yet fell to less than $1,000. Now, an apartment complex is under construction there.
“We’ve done what’s right within the law,” said co-owner Charles Wurtzburger.
Maybe so, with many saving big on this huge break many others are carrying the tax load.