Wal-Mart Loses North Carolina Tax Case

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Wal-Mart Loses North Carolina Tax Case

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has lost a $33.5 million tax dispute with North Carolina state revenue officials over how the retailer calculated taxes for its stores in the state, and said Friday it is still "considering" how to react to the ruling.

A judge on Dec. 31 dismissed Wal-Mart’s suit, in which it sought a refund of the $33.5 million in taxes, interest, and penalties it had paid after the state revenue office claimed the retailer had paid too few taxes.

"Because of the possibility of an appeal, we won't comment on the details of the case, however we believe that all taxpayers should have the right to rely on clearly defined tax laws that are reasonably and fairly enforced," Wal-Mart said in a statement.

The case had to do with the ownership structure Wal-Mart set up for its retail properties in North Carolina.

According to court records cited in press reports, Wal-Mart transferred ownership of its stores to a number of in-house real estate investment trusts (REITS), and then cut its tax obligation by taking deductions for rent payments to those REITS.