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SEN. UTKE: Minnesota Dept. of Revenue is responsible for Enbridge tax refund

State Sen. Utke argues "The problem lies within the DOR. Enbridge just did what any responsible business would do when they see a problem: They expose it" in this guest commentary.

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District 2 State Sen. Paul Utke
Joel Maxwell

Media sources are reporting that Enbridge prevailed in Minnesota Tax Court and that counties need to brace for a fiscal hit.

This issue has been bouncing between the tax court and the Minnesota Supreme Court now for a few years. This all started when Enbridge challenged the assessed value determined by the Minnesota Department of Revenue (DOR). The first ruling from the tax court came in 2018 showing that the DOR had consistently overvalued the pipelines starting in 2012. The DOR assesses the value of pipelines, along with other utilities and railroads, and passes this information along to our counties to process and collect their property tax.

In 2012, the assessed value of these pipelines increased dramatically, and Enbridge challenged the values. The DOR has testified that the last time they made any changes to the way they assess these properties was in 2008. Well, they definitely changed something in 2012, but will not disclose it.

I have presented bills in front of our tax committee in prior years for this issue and will be drafting another bill as soon as we have the final numbers. The bill is to make the DOR responsible for the tax refund payments to Enbridge and not our counties, cities, townships and school districts, who did absolutely nothing wrong.

This issue keeps bouncing back and forth between the Minnesota Tax Court and the Minnesota Supreme Court. And we expect it to be appealed back to the Supreme Court again after this latest March 9 ruling coming from the tax court.

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At some point this will end, and we will know what we must deal with. The problem lies within the DOR. Enbridge just did what any responsible business would do when they see a problem: They expose it. Pipelines, like the other utilities and railroads operate across state lines and when every other state values their respective infrastructure at a much lower rate, the businesses ask questions and appeal the assessed value. That brings us to where we are at today. Stay tuned!

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A guest commentary by State Sen. Paul Utke.