Garfield County joins PILT lawsuit

Class-action lawsuit targets payment in-lieu of taxes underpayments

July 25, 2018

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County has joined a class-action lawsuit that seeks to reimburse counties that were underpaid payment in-lieu of taxes (PILT) funds from 2015 through 2017. If successful, Garfield County stands to receive an estimated $121,931 reimbursement through the legal action.

The federal government pays PILT to local governments for federal lands within their boundaries that aren’t subjected to property taxes. The amount due is determined by a statutorily defined formula. In 2008, Congress made full funding of PILT mandatory through 2014. The 2015 legislation requiring PILT payments was less direct, and the government took the position that the amount due was determined by Congressional appropriations, rather than the PILT formula. This resulted in a lower total payment.

Kane County, Utah filed a successful lawsuit in 2017, which confirms that the PILT formula is the proper measure of the amount owed, and that appropriation of the full amount is required and due to all eligible recipients.

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that the U.S. Department of the Interior shall make full payments to eligible counties for the years 2015 through 2017. There are 1,957 counties eligible for the PILT reimbursements lawsuit, which has an opt-in deadline of Sept. 14.

“We met with Kane County (representatives), and several other PILT receivers, and there are no adverse effects from the Department of Interior for joining the lawsuit,” said Commissioner John Martin. “They said you’re entitled to it, accept it, and we go on from there.”

The amount Garfield County will receive will be $121,931, less attorney fees. The BOCC supported opting into the lawsuit unanimously, 3-0.