School Funding

Independence, Missouri Public Schools Face $ 1.2 Million Loss After Company Payback

INDEPENDENCE, Missouri – A Fortune 500 company’s tax mistake could end up costing the Independence School District more than $ 1 million.

Much of the school district’s funding comes from property taxes, paid by both homeowners and businesses.

But in January this year, Jackson County reimbursed Unilever $ 1.4 million after the consumer goods company said it discovered it had failed to exempt some of its qualifying properties from its 2017 taxes. and 2018.

“We only learned about this in the Independence School District in July 2021,” said Dr Dale Herl, superintendent of the Independence School District.

According to an injunction petition filed by the school district and the Mid Continent Library, Jackson County notified each in October that it would start “collecting” the tax payments this month it had already issued. For Independence School District, it is $ 1.2 million that the county plans to withhold over the next 3 years.

Court records qualify the damage to the school district as “enormous”.

“As far as doing anything right now, there is nothing we can do. This money has already been allocated, we have contracts with the staff, we educate the children, this has an impact that I cannot reduce at all. This is a substantial disruption for the Independence School District, ”Herl said.

The Superintendent of Independence argues that, under state law, Jackson County should never have returned the money to the company because it did not file its taxes under protest.

“I think at a minimum the Independence School District should have been informed before the county refunded the money to Unilever. Even with that, we don’t think the county has the capacity to send the money back to Unilever.

Jackson County said it is not commenting on the pending litigation. FOX4 called Unilever’s local and corporate offices to comment on the apparent tax confusion, but was unable to speak to anyone.

A hearing on the request for a temporary withholding tax injunction is set before a judge on Friday afternoon.