Okmulgee Grocery Store Tax Dispute Ends After 4 Years

Wednesday, January 19th 2022, 6:19 pm

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma -

After nearly four years of a legal battle over who gets sales taxes from an Okmulgee grocery store, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rules the state gets the money and not the Muscogee Nation.

That tax money was set aside during the legal fight.

The city is giving some of that money as an incentive to the grocery store to move across town.

The $250,000 cash incentive will bring the Cox Cash Saver to their old location at Warehouse Market on East 8th Street in hopes of making the new store better.

Okmulgee mayor, Richard Larabee said in 2018, litigation was filed by the Muscogee Nation asking if it could get sales tax revenue from the Cox Cash Saver off US 75 because it was on tribal land.

"The challenge was whether the taxes should be remitted to the state or their nation," said Richard Larabee.

An unclear ruling led to all the sales tax money being held in escrow, until last year, when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the $600,000 belongs to the state.

The ruling said it is unclear if sales taxes should also go to the Muscogee Nation moving forward.

That will have to be decided later.

“They ruled we were the proper taxing authority, and all those taxes would be remitted to the city county and state," said Larabee.

On January 18, Okmulgee’s city council approved a $250,000 tax incentive program for the owners of Cox Cash Saver to move into the old Warehouse Market, which the Cox Cash Saver owners also own.

Larabee said the owners will get the money if they complete a full remodel.

The store is set to be open by fall of 2022.

“There’s lot of good efforts being made there, and this has nothing to do with us versus them," Larabee said about the Muscogee Nation. "It's just helping a business remodel a building that’s been empty for several years.”

Larabee said cases like these may come up again after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on tribal jurisdiction.

Larabee said he’s been working closely with the Muscogee Nation to make sure they’re on the same page and it's working well.

The Muscogee Nation also told us they have a good partnership with Okmulgee.

“The idea that somehow this is us against Muscogee nation, it's not," said Larabee.

In order to get the full amount of money, the store must be in Okmulgee for at least ten years.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission sent us this statement: "The Oklahoma Tax Commission collects and apportions sales tax as required by statute. Unfortunately we cannot comment on any rulings the Commission may have made as it is considered confidential taxpayer information."