Orange County tax goof means Disney is owed millions

If it were a ride, Disneyland's tax bill would be a roller coaster.

Orange County tax assessors overestimated the value of Disney properties and refunded more than $5 million but The Walt Disney Co. recently returned most of it after finding the assessments were wrong again.

Four checks totaling about $3.9 million were returned after Disney brought the error to the county's attention two weeks ago.

"It is our policy not to take money that does not belong to us," spokesman Rob Doughty said Tuesday.

The problem was with a duplicate entry in the county's computer system, County Assessor Webster Guillory said.

"Between Disney and my office, we are correcting the error that was created," Guillory said.

However, Disney still is owed nearly $3.7 million from other tax overvaluations, county officials told the Los Angeles Times.

Those checks will go out after tax roll errors are corrected, said David Sundstrom, the county's auditor-controller.

There have been a series of such errors in past years. From 1994 through 1997, the county inflated Disneyland's property value by a total of $240 million, resulting in a refund of about $2.6 million.

Disney's tax bill is complicated because the company frequently makes changes to its properties and that affects their value, Sundstrom said.

"They're constantly building and rebuilding on the same property, so they have a lot of corrections," Sundstrom said. "That level of refund isn't a huge surprise."


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