Got PILT? The Feds May Owe You Money

The Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program was created in 1976 to compensate counties and other local governments for losses in tax revenues due to the presence of substantial federal land acreage within their jurisdictions. Because local governments are unable to tax the property values or products derived from federal lands, PILT payments are necessary to support essential local government services. Maryland received $111,289 in PILT payments in 2017.

FY 2017 PILT Payments (Courtesy of United States Department of the Interior)

In 2008, Congress significantly amended the PILT statute by mandating full funding through 2014 and removing language that limited the federal government’s payment obligation to the amounts appropriated by Congress. Congress has never reinserted that language. For 2015-17, because of insufficient appropriations, PILT recipients did not receive the full amount to which they were entitled under the PILT statute based on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s full payment calculation.

Kane County, Utah filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking to recover its own underpayments and the underpayments of a class made up of all other PILT recipients in those years. Several months ago, the Court ruled in Kane County’s favor and certified the lawsuit as a class action. The Court also named Smith Currie & Hancock, LLP, Kane County’s lawyers, as Class Counsel to represent all members of the class. The Court ordered that an official Notice of these events be sent to each underpaid PILT recipient. That Notice will be mailed on June 19 to all PILT recipients.

The Notice explains that to participate in the class action lawsuit, and collect the amounts due to them through the class action lawsuit, each underpaid PILT recipient must complete and submit a form “opting into” the lawsuit. If you do not submit the form, you will not be included in the class action lawsuit—and will not receive what would otherwise be your share of any monies recovered.

Additionally, the National Association of Counties (NACo) is scheduling a conference call with the Class Counsel on June 19 at 3 pm. All PILT recipients and state associations of counties are invited to join that call, where Alan Saltman from Smith, Currie & Hancock, LLP will be available to answer any questions.

PILT Lawsuit Conference Call

Jonathan Shuffield, NACo; and Alan Saltman, Smith, Currie & Hancock, LLP (Class Counsel)
Call Date: Tuesday, June 19; 3 pm
Dial-In: (719) 457-0816
Passcode: 782427

Contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo for more information.

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