Local governments to attack ‘dark store’ problem

Posted at 3:40 p.m. on August 29, 2018

The Brillion News

MADISON – A public relations  against “dark store loopholes” was launched by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, the Wisconsin Counties Association and the Wisconsin Towns Association.

“When big box retailers use the Dark Store Loopholes (DSL) to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, it means higher property taxes for Wisconsin homeowners and small businesses,” said Jerry Deschane, Executive Director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. “Wisconsin homeowners already pay a disproportionate 68 percent of the property taxes statewide. That is why Wisconsin’s city, village, town and county leaders have launched this campaign to protect local homeowners and small businesses and to support the bipartisan efforts in the State Legislature to close the Dark Store Loopholes.”

Big box retail stores like Target, Walmart, and Menards, as well as a growing number of other commercial and manufacturing properties, are using property tax avoidance strategies known as the dark store loopholes to shift the local property tax burden onto homeowners and small businesses.

The two loopholes – one known traditionally as the “dark store loophole” and the other as the “Walgreens loophole” – are together commonly referred to as the dark store loopholes.

There is broad bipartisan support for closing both of the loopholes and stop big box retailers from shifting even more of the local tax burden onto homeowners and small businesses. In the last legislative session , two bills closing the loopholes had remarkably broad support among legislators of both parties, and the governor said he would sign the measure if it passed both houses.

One bill had 84 co-sponsors (63 percent of the legislature), and the other had 61 co-sponsors (46 percent), and these bills would have passed both houses by huge margins had they been given a vote.

The comprehensive effort includes paid media, earned media, social  media, netroots legislative outreach, and more. A campaign web site has been launched, as well, at www.DarkStoreLoopholes.org.

A whiteboard video explaining the DSL can be viewed at https://youtu.be/h7Kurxbd5qE.

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