Laurel’s CHS refinery, Yellowstone County’s largest taxpayer, settles property-tax dispute

Posted at 4:35 PM, Jul 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-30 18:35:47-04

LAUREL – The CHS refinery in Laurel, Yellowstone County’s largest taxpayer, has settled its five-year property tax dispute, the Montana Department of Revenue announced Friday.

The settlement follows a May decision by the Montana Tax Appeal Board, which sided with Yellowstone County assessors on a value of $848 million in 2014 for the refinery.

CHS officials had argued it should only be worth about $200 million and appealed. Under the new settlement, the two sides agreed on values from 2014 through 2018.

After filing the protest starting in the 2014 tax year, CHS paid its taxes under the state’s method and put aside about $22 million in an escrow fund, according to the Big Sky Business Journal.

The settlement is good news for Laurel School District, which took a revenue hit because of the loss of tax revenue from CHS. Other local governments also took hits but will soon see the money, according to Revenue.

“The department was pleased with MTAB’s decision of upholding the department’s value. The decision allows protested tax funds to be released to local governments and schools. MTAB’s decision provides clarity in determining market value for oil refineries in the state of Montana,” the Department of Revenue’s Kristan Barbour said in a written statement.

Minnesota-based CHS Inc. is a global cooperative that operates in the ag, oil and retail business. The company reported a net income in 2017 of $128 million.

As part of the agreement, CHS agreed to accept the Department of Revenue’s method of valuing property from 2017 on, until the agency changes that method or the refinery provides the state with income and expense figures that would warrant a change, according to the agreement.

These are the settled values for the five years;

  • 2014- $848.6 million
  • 2015- $738.8 million
  • 2016- $842.9 million
  • 2017- $876.2 million
  • 2018- $838.9 million