OZAUKEE COUNTY — The Ozaukee County Board this month
urged the state to pass legislation that would block the
use of “dark store theory” for commercial tax
store theory, used by national retail and pharmacy
chains, bases a property assessment on similar
properties that are sold vacant, thus severely cutting
the property’s value – and the taxes it pays. A newly
opened Meijer would be assessed for taxes the same as an
abandoned “dark store.”
Lawsuits have begun popping up in Wisconsin as retail
chains such as Walgreens, Lowe’s, Target and others sue
municipalities to have their assessments cut and taxes
refunded, according to the resolution approved by the
county board. Because such buildings are built to
specifications of a particular store, they are often not
useful to anyone else and the abandoned properties sell
for significantly less than the value of the property
and construction on it.
the commercial assessments, and therefore taxes paid,
are cut, additional tax burden is shifted to residential
property owners who already carry 70 percent of the
state’s tax levy, according to the resolution.
County Board’s resolution asks the government to pass
legislation specifying that property leases are relevant
to assessment for such stores, and comparable sales
assessments should use only properties that similarly
exhibit their best use and value, not abandoned
properties of deteriorated value.
Similar legislation has been passed in Indiana and
Michigan in the past two years.
Local legislators Rep. Rob Brooks, R-Saukville, and Sen.
Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, are expected to bring dark
store legislation forward in the coming weeks.