1) Passing legislation closing the dark store tax strategy being used by big box retail stores like Target, Meijer, Lowe's, Home Depot, Menards and others to argue that the assessed value of a relatively new, thriving store should be based on the value of vacant or abandoned buildings of similar size. Courts in other states, like Michigan, have endorsed this theory. We are concerned that if the argument is successfully applied in Wisconsin, even more of the property tax burden will shift to homeowners.
2) Passing legislation that reverses Walgreens v. City of Madison, a 2008 decision that Walgreens and CVS stores are using to successfully argue in court that the assessed value of their properties should be less than half of actual sale prices on the open market. The two have already sued more than 100 Wisconsin communities, claiming that their actual sale prices don't represent market value and the underlying leases are the wrong tool for determining the property's value for 'property tax purposes.' For example, in a December decision, the Court of Appeals, relied on Walgreens v. City of Madison to conclude that a CVS in Appleton should be valued at $1.8 million, much less than the City's $4.5 million assessment based on an actual sale of the property.
Opposition Building. The bills we seek are nearly ready for introduction. Even though the bills haven't been introduced yet, the opposition is already at full power. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Walgreens, Big Box Retail Associations are lobbying against any changes in state law. Naturally, they want to retain the tax advantages they have gained at the expense of other taxpayers, primarily homeowners.
Our Legislative Champions
. We are working with Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) and Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukville) on the Walgreens reversal legislation. Our champions on the dark store legislation are Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) and Rep. Rob Brooks.
We need your help! To counter the opposition to our legislation we need municipal officials to advocate for homeowners and other taxpayers that will be forced to pick up more of the tax burden if these bills are not enacted. Here are ways you can help:
-- Learn more about these loopholes and the resulting tax shift by checking out the dark store resource page on the League's web site.
-- Pass the dark store resolution posted on the League's website. (If your community has already passed the resolution then please email us a copy.)
--Send us data about reductions in property values that Walgreens, CVS and/or big box stores have successfully argued for in your community. Tell us how much of a tax shift to other taxpayers will happen as a result of the reduction in assessed valuation that has occurred.
--Communicate your support for our legislative efforts to your legislators.
--After you contact your legislators, help create a buzz and click here to tweet your support.
The only way this legislative effort succeeds this session is if many municipal officials advocate for its passage. The fight has just begun. It will be a long process. Stay tuned for updates. Thanks for your help.