Colorado Supreme Court Rules Against Kinder Morgan in Landmark Tax Case Involving Montezuma County

Jun 19, 2017

The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Montezuma County in a longstanding dispute over how carbon-dioxide giant Kinder Morgan calculates its revenues.

Monday’s ruling means the company will owe millions of dollars more in property taxes and local school districts and special districts will reap the benefits. The case centered on how large a deduction Kinder Morgan could subtract from its revenues for the cost of transporting CO2 from Montezuma County to oilfields in Texas. Companies are allowed to deduct the tariff they pay to pipeline companies, but only if the pipeline company is not a “related party.” But Montezuma County argued that the pipeline in question is owned in large part by Kinder Morgan, and the court agreed. Kinder Morgan had also questioned whether the assessor could retroactively assess such taxes, but the court found that it could. In 2008, the county’s then-assessor, Mark Vanderpool, initiated a special audit that resulted in a $50 million increase in Kinder Morgan’s assessed value, meaning a $2 million property-tax hike for that year. On Monday, the commissioners said the county would begin reassessing taxes for subsequent years as well.  

- David Long contributed to this report