(Sheridan, WY) An updated report shows that mineral extraction companies owe Wyoming counties nearly $55 million in unpaid taxes throughout the state, up nearly $13 million since January. Today Powder River Basin Resource Council (Powder River) released a revised report “Ad Valorem Taxes in Wyoming: Proposed Improvements” providing updated data and suggests legislative actions to help resolve the problem.

In January 2018, Powder River released its original report illustrating that counties were owed $42 million in unpaid taxes and offered four common-sense solutions. Since then, the Wyoming Joint Interim Revenue Committee (Committee) has taken up the topic of reforming administration and collection of mineral taxes. The Committee has focused on three main topics regarding these taxes: establishment of perpetual liens on mineral property when ownership changes, synchronized payment of ad valorem and severance taxes, and other administrative changes to ease taxpayer burden and reduce delinquency. The Committee will meet in Buffalo on Sept. 21st to discuss these topics.

“The fact that the amount of delinquent taxes has grown by nearly $13 million in half a year is alarming. The problem is persistent, and we must quickly find ways to resolve it,” said Joyce Evans, chair of Powder River. “The good news is that the Joint Interim Revenue Committee is working toward some remedies. With these policy changes, and a couple common-sense actions, we can ensure our ability to provide essential services and maintain our high educational standards.”

Powder River commends the Committee’s recommendations for perpetual liens on mineral production taxes and synchronization of tax payment. Both these remedies would significantly help counties collect taxes on time and reduce their costs when mineral companies declare bankruptcy.

In regard to the Committee’s third topic of other suggested administrative changes, the new report makes two recommendations:

  • The state should establish a funding pool or allow access to the Federal Natural Resource Policy Account to assist counties during bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Legislation should allow the Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission and the Department of Environmental Quality to consider a company’s state and county tax debt in Wyoming before allowing the sale or transfer of assets.

“We’re pleased the Committee is aggressively seeking to assist counties in collecting taxes due. Essential services like public safety, roads, and schools are so dependent on mineral taxes that counties should be able to collect these taxes. We hope these recommendations are adopted by the legislature and delinquencies stop growing. Fifty-five million dollars owed to just 13 counties indicates that the system must be improved,” said Powder River Vice-Chair Bob LeResche.

Powder River mailed copies of the report to the Wyoming Joint Interim Revenue Committee, Governor Mead, and gubernatorial candidates and is distributing it to counties and the public. Copies of the report are attached and available by contacting Powder River at info@powderriverbasin.or or (307) 672-5809.