Dark Store Loophole Costs Taxpayers
Republicans blocked bill that prevented big box retailers shifting taxes to homeowners.
What is the Walmart Dark Store Tax Loophole?
The dark store tax loophole allows big box retailers like Walmart to reduce their property taxes by appraising their property as if it was a vacant or “dark” store, thus resulting in a lower tax assessment. In Wisconsin, Walmart and other big box retailers used this loophole to try and cut their property assessments by a total of more than an estimated $700 million last year.
Earlier this year, State Senator Janis Ringhand’s bill, A.B. 386, attempted to close the loophole in Wisconsin and was supported by over 60 bipartisan co-sponsors and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. But in the final days of the session, Assembly Leader Robin Vos and Senate Speaker Scott Fitzgerald blocked Ringhand’s bill and tried to push a “compromise” supported by business interests that, according to the League, was “worse than current law.” Because of Vos and Fitzgerald’s last-minute bait-and-switch, nothing was done to address the dark store tax loophole. Leaders Vos and Fitzgerald must not have homeowners in their districts, otherwise why would they place additional tax burdens on them while major corporations like Walmart get away with not paying what they owe?
Why does this matter?
In addition to Walmart’s corporate welfare, an estimated $6.2 billion in annual federal subsidies, and the estimated $205 million in cumulative nationwide state and local tax subsidies the retailer has already received, the Walmart Dark Store Tax Loophole creates a tremendous burden on our society. By fleecing local government out of much-needed revenue, our public schools, which heavily rely on property tax revenue, suffer the most. And when schools are underfunded, oftentimes taxes go up or new taxes are instituted, creating more of a burden for homeowners.
Walmart could easily stop appealing property assessments made by local governments and use the $2 billion federal corporate tax break it will receive this year to pay its property taxes.
But none of this has happened and will not happen unless the American people speak out against Walmart’s behavior and actions.
It’s time to close Walmart’s Dark Store Tax Loophole and for politicians like Vos and Fitzgerald to place their priorities with America’s homeowners and taxpayers and not companies that use loopholes to get out of paying their fair share.
John Eiden is the President of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1473.
More about the Dark Store Loophole
- The State of Politics: Growing Concern Over Dark Store Loophole - Steven Walters - Apr 23rd, 2018
- Op Ed: Dark Store Loophole Costs Taxpayers - John Eiden - Apr 16th, 2018
- Op Ed: Homeowners Getting Stuck With Tax Bill - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Mar 25th, 2018
- Republicans Lower Walmart’s Property Taxes, Raise Yours - State Rep. Jimmy Anderson - Feb 13th, 2018
- Campaign Cash: Republicans Stall “Dark Store” Bill - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Dec 14th, 2017