Should state close ‘dark store loophole’?

My Take

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Some retailers have argued their properties should be assessed as if they were vacant buildings. In many cases, they have used this argument to fight for lower assessments and therefore, lower property tax bills. Local governments have complained and are pushing for a change in state law to eliminate what critics call a “dark store loophole.”



Rep. Gordon Hintz

Democrat, Assembly minority leader

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Scott Manley

Senior vice president of government relations, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

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David vs. Goliath?

H: “I have never met a homeowner who thinks they need to pay more in property taxes so a large national retailer can receive an unfair tax break. Unfortunately, due to the so-called ‘dark store’ loophole, that exact scenario is happening all over Wisconsin.”

M: “Everybody loves an underdog and that’s especially true when a storyline pits the ‘little guy’ against a large corporation. This is the narrative local governments have spun in the so-called ‘dark stores’ debate. This makes for an interesting story, but it’s simply not true.”

Property tax burden

H: “Homeowners already pay 68 percent of the statewide property tax levy. Asking them to pay more to subsidize Walmart is just wrong. We should be working together to help our friends and neighbors lower their property taxes and make corporations pay their fair share.”

M: “The property tax burden has actually shifted from homeowners to businesses over the last decade. The dark store legislation is an effort to legalize tax hikes on businesses that assessors have been attempting to impose, illegally, for more than a decade.”


H: “The failure by Gov. Scott Walker and legislative Republicans to address the ‘dark store loophole’ is a green light for retailers – large and small – to contest their assessments. This will result in lost revenue that will increasingly be made up by increased property taxes on residents and homeowners.”

M: “This debate isn’t about ‘closing a loophole’ or forcing someone to ‘pay their fair share.’ It’s about local governments wanting to tax to the max and villainize the businesses that provide jobs in their communities.”

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