CSX sues South Carolina over increases in property tax assessments

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – CSX Transportation is asking a federal court to throw out the railroad’s 2015 property tax bill calculated by the state of South Carolina in favor of a new tax bill to be written by the federal court, the Columbia State reported.

In a case filed in U.S. District Court in Columbia, CSX accuses the South Carolina Department of Revenue of discriminatory treatment against a railroad carrier, contending the state’s use of an outdated statute is to blame for the $42.7 million property tax bill for 2015.

The civil suit seeks an immediate and permanent injunction against the property taxes on the grounds the state’s levy violates federal interstate commerce laws because the revenue department did not use the same formula to calculate property taxes for other commercial businesses in the state – just the railroad.

CSX said in court documents that the Department of Revenue appraisal of CSX property in the state has increased about 59.4 percent between 2007 and 2015. Citing a November 2006 state law – the South Carolina Real Property Valuation Reform Act – CSX contends that the Department of Revenue cannot increase the appraised value of commercial and industrial real property more than 15 percent within a five-year period.

The law excludes from the 15 percent limit any property appraised by the Department of Revenue using a formula called the unit valuation concept. DOR, by state law, uses the unit valuation concept to appraise railroad property, but does not use it to appraise other commercial and industrial property in South Carolina.

The same law forbids imposing any tax that results in discriminatory treatment of a railroad, the lawsuit claims. Extending the appraisal increase limitation to other commercial and industrial property but denying it to the railroad company results in discriminatory treatment, CSX said in court documents.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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  • November 30, 2015
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