(Beaver Dam) State Representative Mark Born says both sides have a fair point in a tax loophole issue that big box stores use in order to lower their property bill. It is called the Dark Store concept; the bigger retailers want their property assessed as if no one is operating in them which would lower how much they would pay in property taxes. Those unpaid taxes would then fall onto local taxpayers in the municipalities where those retailers are located.
Born supported a bill that sides with municipalities but says he understands the position of the department stores. He says according to state law, property taxes are supposed to be based on the value of the property and building alone, just like with a residential home. He says when appraisers started assessing big box stores based on the contents inside the business it became a violation of state law. Born says unequal application of the law across Wisconsin played a role in the stalling of a bill that aimed to close the tax loophole for good. He says assessors may be assessing property correctly in some areas while others are in violation of state laws.
During a recent appearance on WBEV’s Community Comment, the Beaver Dam Republican says if a change is going to be made both sides have to be taken into account. Born questioned whether it would be fair to tax businesses more when property taxes are meant to only be about the land and the building. He says that would be a big change to state law if the policy was to be re-written. Born says he is not sure what the fix might be but added that this issue will be discussed during the next legislative session.