In 2020, rioters and looters ransacked the Louis Vuitton store in Portland, Oregon, stealing an estimated $300,000 in merchandise and causing another $500,000 in damages. The city filed a lawsuit against the store in late August for failing to pay $40,000 in taxes and penalties from 2020.
Local media outlets have questioned whether Louis Vuitton might be withholding the funds because the city and county failed to provide adequate protection to the store during the riots. Many businesses in the downtown Portland area were damaged during the protests.
Portland alleged that the luxury retailer owes the city $23,825 in business taxes, penalties, and interest. The lawsuit also stated that Louis Vuitton owes the county another $18,443 in unpaid taxes, the National Review reported.
In the case, the city claimed that it had made the company aware of the overdue charges. However, Portland reported that Louis Vuitton has not filed reports or paid the outstanding dues.
National Review obtained a copy of the lawsuit, but the case does not specify why the luxury retailer refused to pay taxes for that year.
On May 29, 2020, rioters and looters entered Portland’s Pioneer Place mall, a shopping center with many luxury stores. Videos of the rioters went viral on social media, showing them smashing the glass storefront at Louis Vuitton, pushing their way inside, and running out with designer handbags.
Rioters also targeted H&M, Starbucks, Apple, and Capital One storefronts located inside the shopping center.
The 35 reported riots during the summer of 2020 cost the Portland Police Bureau over $12 million.
The vice president of research for the Cascade Policy Institute in Portland, Eric Fruits, told the National Review that it is unclear why Louis Vuitton has not paid taxes to the city for 2020. He stated that there could be several factors, including that the luxury store might be challenging the city’s new Portland Clean Energy Fund, which adds a new 1% tax on larger retailers.
“They might be contesting whether or not they are obligated to pay that tax,” Fruits said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty about who actually has to pay it.”
Fruits also mentioned that the city recently initiated a program that could provide local small businesses that suffered damages during the riots with a $10,000 grant.
However, Louis Vuitton is not a small local business. Even if the French luxury store were provided the grant money, it would hardly make a dent in the reported $800,000 in damages and stolen goods. The city has already paid out $720,000 to 135 businesses impacted by the summer of rage.
Fruits stated, “What a messed up world we live in where a business pays their business income tax, a big chunk of that is supposedly for public safety, and then they have to pay taxes again to support a fund to cover the damages because there’s no public safety.”
According to Fruits, if Louis Vuitton refuses to pay 2020 taxes because of the lack of protection during the riots, he believes it will be a challenging case to win.