Disney declared victory today in an ongoing lawsuit regarding property value assessments. Read on for details.
The Walt Disney World resort owns a lot of property in Central Florida.
Like other property owners, Disney World properties are appraised for their fair-market value and then assessed taxes on that value.
However, since 2016, the Walt Disney Company has been challenging the Orange County Property Appraiser’s office over the assessed value of 14 properties.
Property Value Assessed
Back in 2016, Disney brought a lawsuit against then Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh. Singh has since lost re-election to a third term.
Disney alleged that Singh (and his staff) overestimated the fair-market value of 14 of their properties. The properties in question include all four theme parks, the water parks and even the Fantasia Mini Golf course.
As required by law, according to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney continued to pay the assessed taxes while arguing for a reduction.
The exact amount of the refund is still being calculated, but Orange County tax collector Scott Randolph estimated the refund would be around 1.3 million dollars each year, for years 2015-2020.
In 2015, Disney World paid around 23 million dollars in property taxes.
The refund will reportedly come from tax funds collected and set aside for this type of litigation.
Similar Previous Lawsuits
Universal Orlando resort and Sea World had similar feelings about the appraised value of their properties. Both companies also sued Singh in 2015.
In 2009, Universal won a 1.4 million dollar property tax refund after successfully arguing that the value of their parking garage had been overstated.
The parking garage case predates Singh’s term. It was brought against the previous occupant of the office, Bill Donegan.
For his part, Singh alleges that Disney worked with a political action committee to oust him from office.
“Of the tax lawsuits we have on the books right now, half come from Walt Disney World. It’s sad that this is the way they’re trying to skirt paying their fair share of taxes…”-Rick Singh in 2020
Singh also accused Disney of simply trying to shirk their tax burden and suggested that Disney use the money they’re spending on lawsuits to instead pay more in taxes. That’ll be a tough sell with Chapek at the helm.
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-Rebecca W Davis