Dark Store Day Designed To Push Legislature To Act

Dec 6, 2017

Jerry Deschane, League of Wisconsin Municipalities
Credit LWM

The head of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities says they've set aside a day next week to prod the legislature to act on closing tax loopholes that are called 'dark stores'.

The City of Rhinelander and others have complained to legislators about the legal loopholes large retail stores are using to lower their tax bills. Large retailers found a loophole in state law where their properties are only worth what it would be if it was vacant or abandoned rather than compared to another large operating store, hence the name 'dark store'.

League Executive Director Jerry Deschane explains what they're hoping to accomplish by declaring December 11 as Dark Store Day in Wisconsin...

"....we're trying to highlight the fact that the tax burden is shifting away from big box commercial retailers and it's being put on the laps of home owners, small businesses, basically everybody except the big box retailers...."

Deschane says the legislature is poised to act...

"....our whole goal with Dark Store Day is to get two bills(passed). Senate bill and an Assembly bill. they're teed up, there's been public hearings, they're ready to go. We're asking the legislature to let 'em be free. Take a vote on those bills. We know it's going to pass overwhelmingly. Then we protect property taxpayers. The ask of the day is to the legislature. Please pass the Dark Store Repair bills...."

The Menards Store in Rhinelander and Walgreens have used the tax loopholes to challenge their tax bills from the city. Nearly a year ago, Menards challenged their tax bill which saved them $51,000, according to city officials.