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Financial giant JP Morgan Chase sues Hillsborough County over property tax refund

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

JP Morgan Chase is suing the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser and Tax Collector for a tax refund based on its assertion that the corporate giant was over-assessed on its 2014 tax bill. The company paid just over $500,000 in property taxes in 2014.

That figure was assessed based on a more than $34 million market value and $20 million appraised value for the property located at 10410 Laurel Oak Place in Tampa. A lawsuit filed this month alleges the taxes were calculated “arbitrarily based on appraisal practices which are not professionally accepted appraisal practices nor acceptable mass appraisal standards within Hillsborough County.”

The company is seeking a reassessment of property values and a refund of any property taxes paid in excess of what a new appraisal finds necessary.

This isn’t the first time the multibillion-dollar company has sued the county over its property taxes. In 2013, JP Morgan Chase filed a similar lawsuit contesting a $700,000 tax bill. In that lawsuit, the company called the assessment “inaccurate, illegal [and] arbitrary.”

In both lawsuits the company claimed failing to adjust the appraisal would cause “irreparable damage” to the company. JP Morgan Chase posted total revenue in 2014 of $97.9 billion. In 2013 that figure was $99.8 billion. It’s unclear just how much JP Morgan Chase thinks it is entitled to in a refund, but it is clear any refund at all would be a drop in the bucket compared to its overall earnings.

The company employs 2,300 employees locally, according to a list compiled by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

State and county governments are known to hand out tax incentives to large companies and corporations in return for jobs promises.

A 2013 Fox 13 report notes combined tax incentives between Hillsborough County and the state come to $12.5 million over 16 years. Those were doled out based on promises to create 4,700 jobs.

In that same report, Fox points out that while the company has added jobs over the years, it has also phased out several.

According to a report dating back to 2005 by then St. Pete Times, JP Morgan Chase had been promised more than $21 million in tax incentives and a tax break worth as much as $74.5 million. That report was released the same year Chase laid off 1,900 employees who worked at the bank’s shuttered call center.

JP Morgan Chase has slashed jobs as a result of changes in the economy particularly during the years hardest hit by the mortgage crisis and, in part, by moving certain jobs overseas.

The company’s latest lawsuit was filed April 17. It’s unclear what the outcome of the 2013 lawsuit was.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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