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Eau Claire officials agree with closing dark store tax loophole

Eau Claire (WQOW) — Governor Tony Evers has announced plans to close the “dark store tax loophole”, in hopes of bringing tax relief to Wisconsin homeowners.

When your house is assessed for taxes, officials compare it to how much other, similar homes in your neighborhood sold for. However, big chain retailers, like Walgreens and Lowe’s, argue that their assessment for new, popular stores should be based on how much old, boarded-up stores are worth.

Eau Claire’s Deputy City Attorney Doug Hoffer told News 18 this loophole is unfair to homeowners because it shifts a higher percentage of taxes used to pay for police, schools and city streets away from big companies, and onto local homeowners.

Hoffer said if Evers can successfully close the loophole, commercial property owners would pay their fair share in taxes.

“We want to see the tax burden fair. People who want to avoid seeing their residential property taxes increase, should be concerned about the dark store loophole,” Hoffer said.

Under state law, cities like Eau Claire would not collect any additional taxes if the loophole is closed. Instead, they would just collect more from big corporations and less from homeowners. Hoffer said he believes there’s plenty of public support for closing the ‘dark store loophole’, as voters have approved several advisory referendums recently.

According to Wisconsin Senator Jennifer Shilling, Evers plans to include funding in the 2019-2021 budget to close the loophole.

Samantha Wensel

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