State Sen. Jennifer Shilling
Op Ed

Homeowners Getting Stuck With Tax Bill

"Dark store” loophole shifts corporate property taxes to homeowners, Republicans won't address problem.

By - Mar 25th, 2018 02:22 pm
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Walgreens at 2625 W. National Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Walgreens at 2625 W. National Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Imagine if you could pay lower property taxes by simply saying no one lives in your neighbor’s house. It sounds ridiculous but the sad reality is that large corporations are increasingly taking advantage of a legal loophole to avoid paying their fair share of local property taxes. As a result of this loophole, their tax burden is shifted onto main street businesses and local homeowners.

All across Wisconsin, large corporate retailers have challenged their property taxes by arguing that the value of their new property is the same as an abandoned, or “dark” property, in a different location. In many cases, the dark property being used to exploit this loophole is property that the corporation recently abandoned to move to a new location.

Wisconsin’s “Dark Store” loophole is becoming a growing problem in municipalities of all sizes across the state. Wealthy corporations have rigged the system and taxpayers are left footing the bill.

In an effort to ensure tax fairness for working families and seniors, Democrats have introduced legislation to close this loophole and prevent corporations from using vacant, abandoned or dark properties as a comparison for determining the value of a fully operational and occupied building.

Given the overwhelming public support for this proposal, Democrats were hopeful that the legislature would approve this commonsense fix. Unfortunately, Republican lawmakers in Madison sided with special interest groups that have opposed tax fairness for homeowners and local businesses, thus killing the bill. Their failure to lead on this issue will result in homeowners paying millions more in property taxes for years to come.

The opportunity to achieve the American Dream is out of reach for many families in Wisconsin as Republicans continue to rig tax policies in favor of corporations and the wealthy while shifting more of the tax burden onto working families and seniors.

It is disappointing and frustrating that Republicans have adjourned for the session without addressing long-term solutions for tax fairness. Rather than throwing in the towel and calling it quits, we should work together to achieve Wisconsin’s full potential.

Despite these challenges, families know they can trust Democratic leaders to fight for commonsense solutions that promote fairness, expand opportunities and invest in our communities. Closing the “Dark Store” loophole is going to be a top priority for Democrats as we continue fighting to make Wisconsin a place where the next generation wants to live, work and raise a family.

Jennifer Shilling serves as the Senate Democratic Leader and represents the 32nd District which covers La Crosse, Vernon, Crawford and parts of Monroe County.

More about the Dark Store Loophole

Categories: Politics, Real Estate

5 thoughts on “Op Ed: Homeowners Getting Stuck With Tax Bill”

  1. Troll says:

    Jennifer, there is nothing to imagine. Local newspapers have done many stories on abandoned homes predominantly on the north side of Milwaukee. If you lice in these depressed areas your home property goes down and therefore your property taxes. My house in Glendale has not recovered from its 2008 highs. I pay less in taxes in 2018 do to foreclosure effects from a decade past.

  2. Terry says:

    Big Government Nanny State control freak Republicans love to raise taxes! Taxes in Walker’s Wississippi are HIGHER than in Dayton’s “socialist” Minnesota and Minnesota actually has a real economy, a functioning affordable health care system, a great education system including universal early childhood education, a medical cannabis program which has greatly reduced opioid deaths, no gerrymandering, voting right, gay rights, abortion rights all safe and secure etc etc. Wisconsin is a complete and total DUMP compared to Minnesota. A complete and total laughably backwards, regressive, Republican hellhole.

    Dump Walker 2018

  3. Tim says:

    Why can’t municipalities shift to taxing everyone as though their property is a “dark store” or foreclosed residence?

    The taxable value would go down for everyone, of course the tax rate would go up. People would pay less overall because there’s no loophole.

  4. Jake currently of the MKE says:

    Worship your corporate masters and rejoice in the burden they give you and the scraps you get.

    It’s the Republican way.

  5. sharon pendleton says:

    This is the same problem being foisted on taxpayers in Johnson County Kansas – and the residents who will carry this burden are nearly all REPUBLICANS! Too bad the hand that feeds may get bitten. There is no end to taxation as long as we keep wanting more government programs in our lives.

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