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The League and local elected officials are calling attention to the Dark Store and Walgreen's reversal loopholes that have already resulted in a shift of property taxes to homeowners and small businesses.
"It's a tax avoidance strategy by commercial retailers such as Menards, Walgreens, and CVS Who ask to pay property taxes equal to stores that are vacant or boarded up, when in reality, their stores are booming with business.
"Somebody will come in and they will pay $8 million dollars to buy a piece of property, construct a brand new store and say, well it's really only worth $2 million," said City of Appleton Mayor, Tim Hanna. He says this tax strategy is used all over the country, not just in Wisconsin.
Hanna said, "In Appleton, we've refunded close to a million dollars in taxes, and that has to come from somewhere."
That somewhere, is from homeowners and small businesses, who are picking up the "tax tab" from the big-box stores.
"There's a lot of people out there that aren't aware of it," said Ashwaubenon Village President, Mary Kardoskee. "A home in Ashwaubenon worth approximately $140,000, the taxes would go up about $1000."
Acccording to State Representative David Steffen, "If we don't address this issue, this will likely be the largest property tax shift in state history." See the full story on WeareGreenBay here...
Legislation would correct two aspects of the problem. SB 291 addresses a 2008 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that cut tax assessments on single tenant commercial properties, like Walgreens and CVS. That court interpretation left many of these stores paying taxes on half their fair market selling price. SB 292 would halt the “Dark Store Strategy” in which commercial property owners argue their properties should be assessed as if they were vacant or boarded up. Presently, hundreds of millions of dollars of taxable value is not on the rolls because of these strategies.
Neither bill would increase the revenue municipalities collect; they would, however, distribute the cost of municipal services such as police, fire protection, and public works more fairly among all property taxpayers.
Both bills have dozens of sponsors, legislators from both sides of the aisle. Local municipal leaders are asking for both SB291 and SB 292 to be scheduled for a vote.