Dark Store Theory Draws Fear to Small Cities in Wisconsin


The “dark store theory” is a term that has been used to describe the method at which big retailers try and reduce their property taxes. States all over the US are beginning this fight but the law might have to change in order to please everyone.

The issue with the dark store theory is that the law allows for every property owner to protest the valuation of their property with the city assessors. Now the problem is, retailers like Walmart, Menards, and Target are abusing the system by arguing that their property isn’t worth any more than an old Walmart now turned into a church or discount store.

Since the law favors big box stores their taxes are being cut drastically and are affecting communities in which they’re located. According to Pocket, “If the stores prevail in West Bend, for example, it would reduce property values by millions of dollars, force the city to refund hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes, and set back payments on the public infrastructure that the town built to lure these retailers in the first place.”

The result of all the big retailers winning their protest of property taxes is that the cities taxes for everyone else will increase and there will be less police force, firefighters, and teachers. The argument to be made is should these retailers be a loud to compare themselves to empty stores and is it fair for new owners of an old big box store to pay the same taxes as a current opened and thriving store?

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