Comcast pays $155M to settle Oregon tax dispute

Comcast Center's office in Philadelphia. Image: Comcast
The Oregon Department of Revenue estimated Comcast's tax liability before the settlement at $200 million. (Comcast)

Comcast will pay local governments in Oregon $155 million to resolve a decadelong dispute in the state over unpaid property taxes. 

According to the Portland Oregonian, Comcast will also drop its attempt to take advantage of a tax loophole set up to attract gigabit-speed internet services to Oregon. 

The settlement is actually around $45 million less than what local government officials say Comcast owes. The Oregon Department of Revenue estimated Comcast's tax liability before the settlement at $200 million.

RELATED: Comcast won’t fight interest charges on $150M Oregon tax bill

Comcast reps didn’t immediately respond to FierceCable’s inquiry for comment. But Rodrigo Lopez, Comcast's VP for Oregon and Southwest Washington, told the Oregonian, "We are pleased to reach a compromise with the State of Oregon. This agreement gives local communities certainty around funding, provides Comcast predictability on property taxes, and enables us to continue to make significant investments in Oregon."

The case dates back to 2009, when the Oregon State Legislature changed the way it charged property taxes on Comcast’s equipment. 

In fact, before Monday’s settlement, Comcast hadn’t  paid state taxes in Oregon since 2009, when it began disputing the state’s unusual “central assessment” tax methodology. Developed in the 1800s for railroad companies, the practice now taxes companies like telecom operators for their intangible assets, such as the value of their brands. 

Comcast battled back in court with a lawsuit, losing a 2014 State Supreme Court decision that has since been meandering through appeals. 

"It's an end to what could go on for many more years," Wendy Johnson, spokesperson for the League for Oregon Cities, told the Oregonian. "We're happy to see an ending and have transparency and clarity going forward."

Money from the settlement will go to local governments in 10 Oregon counties. 

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