Wisconsin fights back against dark store loophole


The dark store theory is a loophole that started in Indiana and Michigan, but has expanded and is spreading across Wisconsin, it allows big box stores to save millions on property taxes at the expense of municipalities.

Republicans in the legislature, State Senators Duey Stroebel and Roger Roth along with Representative Rob Brooks unveiled the new bills aimed to stop the dark store loophole in Wisconsin, and Appleton's Mayor Tim Hannah was on hand as well.

In a settlement with CVS, Walgreens and Target the city of Appleton refunded these stores $804,000, municipalities do not have the legal resources to fight against these corporations and when the box stores win home owners in Wisconsin lose.

Big box stores argue that the market value of their store is the same as so called dark stores like the former Cubs Foods in Green Bay, they say the assessment should be on the building, the bricks and mortar, not what's inside or the revenue stream generated.

In addition, municipalities have a hard time developing dark stores because the former tenant usually has a clause in their contract that doesn't allow a competitor to take over that space, making it difficult to find someone else to come in.

If municipalities lose out on this tax revenue most likely home owners and small businesses will have to split the difference because the taxes pay for schools, roads and police in communities.

Many of the local governments in northeastern Wisconsin are being threatened with law suits, De Pere and the Village of Bellevue have sent resolutions to the state government asking for help.