Today I’m dusting off my keyboard to share a letter I wrote yesterday to my state representative and state senator. I wrote them to share my concerns about “dark store” tax loophole tactics used by some large “big box” chains here in Wisconsin to get their property taxes reduced, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The League of Municipalities has a good page about how dark store tactics are employed by some businesses. You can read more here. Essentially, these businesses argue that their property tax valuations should be compared to similar sized properties which could be closed and no longer operating. If such argument is successful, it means a further property tax burden is shifted to other property owners in the community (including homeowners).
Yes, that shiny new store in your town could see a tax valuation similar to a property like this!
There is currently a bill circulating in the state capital which would preempt further dark store tactics. Here is the letter I wrote below (name removed, as I don’t want to turn this into a political commentary on our local legislators):
I am writing you to today to express support for legislation put forth by Rep. Brooks and Sen. Roth regarding closing the “dark store” tax argument that some companies are using to successfully argue for property tax reductions throughout Wisconsin.
I’m sure if you polled your constituents, overwhelmingly, most would feel they already pay enough in property taxes. Without passing this dark store legislation, homeowners could see an unfair shift of more property taxes going towards them. I’m sure that is something you and your colleagues would not want to happen.
Homeowners already pay their fair share of property taxes. Businesses need to pay their fair share, too. The difference is that the average homeowner can’t pay for high priced lawyers to argue in their favor. Please consider supporting this legislation, as it’s about simple fiscal fairness.
Mason T. Becker
Fort Atkinson City Councilman
Do you agree with the sentiments I expressed? Feel otherwise? Please comment below!