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Comcast Settles Oregon Tax Lawsuit, Will Pay $155 Million

Oregon's winnings in the suit will reportedly go to local governments to be used at their discretion.

Posted: Jun 4, 2018 3:17 PM
Updated: Jun 4, 2018 5:42 PM

By TOM JAMES , Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Internet and cable television provider Comcast has settled a long-running property tax dispute with the state of Oregon for $155 million, gaining a one-time discount but agreeing to a more costly method of calculating its taxes.

The settlement, which sends an infusion of cash to ten Oregon counties, resolves a dispute dating to a 2009 decision to assess the company's assets in the state as a whole, rather than piecemeal. The company had argued that because it provides TV service, it was exempt from rules allowing the broader tax assessment on communication companies.

Unlike local government tax assessments which count only tangible assets, so-called central assessment by the state's revenue department looks at the value of the entire company, including intangible assets. The broader assessment included about an extra $700 million in assets, according to media reports at the time.

The settlement amounts to about a 9 percent discount for the company: By paying $155.6 million, Comcast will erase about $170 million in back taxes, said Department of Revenue spokesman Derrick Gasperini. As part of the settlement, Comcast agreed to accept the broader assessment, and the larger future tax bills it would generate.

The settlement will be divided between the 10 counties in the state where Comcast has assessable property.

Gov. Kate Brown's office said in a statement that Brown had helped negotiate the deal, and urged local governments to use the cash bump to pay down public pension obligations.

Rodrigo Lopez, a regional vice president for the company, said in an email the company was happy with the outcome.

The agreement "gives local communities certainty around funding, (and) provides Comcast predictability on property taxes," Lopez wrote.

A key issue in the dispute had been whether the internet giant qualified as a communications company.

That designation qualifies a company for central assessment by the state, and Comcast had argued it was technically exempt because it used its infrastructure primarily to provide television service.

But the state Supreme Court rejected that argument in 2014, ruling unanimously that Comcast — which uses the same infrastructure for both television and internet service — qualified as a communications company.

That designation, in turn, put the company in a category allowing the state to assess its value as a whole company.

Along with the one-time payments, the settlement included an agreement by Comcast to the use of the broader assessment and also a withdrawal of an application for a tax exemption, meaning the company will pay more taxes in future years than in the past.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 12438

Reported Deaths: 237
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah296672
Marion189354
Washington189221
Umatilla10418
Clackamas100628
Malheur4002
Union3692
Lincoln3615
Lane3093
Deschutes2680
Yamhill2059
Linn18210
Jackson1810
Polk17912
Jefferson1680
Morrow1541
Klamath1381
Wasco1171
Benton1156
Hood River1060
Douglas640
Josephine571
Clatsop550
Columbia540
Coos540
Lake240
Crook181
Tillamook160
Wallowa150
Baker120
Curry90
Sherman50
Gilliam20
Harney20
Grant10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 333357

Reported Deaths: 7089
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1363573824
Riverside25748550
Orange25255424
San Diego19929422
San Bernardino19502307
Fresno828288
Imperial7977136
Alameda7976148
San Joaquin698870
Kern660198
Santa Clara6542167
Tulare5942152
Sacramento571483
Stanislaus497351
Contra Costa485290
San Francisco459050
Ventura424653
San Mateo4045112
Santa Barbara393131
Marin370232
Kings297039
Monterey279018
Solano207528
Merced188412
Sonoma181916
Placer111411
San Luis Obispo10065
Yolo92928
Madera8938
Santa Cruz5693
Napa5184
Lassen4280
Sutter4034
San Benito3622
Butte3384
El Dorado3070
Shasta2006
Yuba1983
Glenn1760
Humboldt1654
Nevada1631
Mendocino1320
Lake1211
Colusa1130
Tehama1071
Tuolumne730
Calaveras670
Del Norte610
Mono521
Siskiyou410
Amador400
Inyo351
Mariposa321
Plumas190
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
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