The Olympian recently described efforts by the parties to reach a solution in the Great Wolf property tax dispute. The Chehalis Tribe and Great Wolf LLC filed a lawsuit in federal court against Thurston County, claiming they were not liable for the taxes. The court decided in favor of the county, but Great Wolf appealed that decision and has not yet paid any taxes.
The parties are trying to reach an agreement, but there is no basis for compromise of these taxes.
Once the value of the property is determined, and the levy rates are set, the taxes apply uniformly to all taxpayers located in the applicable taxing districts, including the state (for the state school levy). Unlike state excise taxes, which are statutorily authorized to be compromised in individual circumstances, there is no similar authority with respect to property taxes.
Once the property tax amount is accurately determined, that amount is not subject to negotiation between the assessor and the taxpayer. Great Wolf owes $3.82 million in back taxes and that amount must be paid unless the district court decision is overturned. Furthermore, the county has no authority to waive statutorily imposed interest and penalties.
If these taxes are not paid by Great Wolf, all other taxpayers will pay more in property taxes. The LLC must not be allowed to violate the court’s decision, and any agreement reached by the parties in this case must comply with the constitution and laws of this state.