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Sat Jan 12, 2019, 10:12 PM

As Big Retailers Seek to Cut Their Tax Bills, Towns Bear the Brunt

WAUWATOSA, Wis. — With astonishing range and rapidity, big-box retailers and corporate giants are using an aggressive legal tactic to shrink their property tax bills, a strategy that is costing local governments and school districts around the country hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

These businesses — many of them brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart, Home Depot, Target, Kohl’s, Menards and Walgreens that have faced fierce online competition — maintain that no matter how valuable a thriving store is to its current owner, these warehouse-type structures are not worth much to anyone else.

So the best way to appraise their property, they contend in their tax appeals, is to look at the sale prices on the open market of vacant or formerly vacant shells in other places. As shuttered stores spread across the landscape, their argument has resonated.

To municipalities, these appeals amount to a far-fetched tax dodge that allows corporations to wriggle out of paying their fair share.

Either way, homeowners and small businesses will have to pay more or live with smaller budgets for police, schools, garbage pickup and road repair.

Businesses, of course, appeal property assessments as routinely as coaches work the refs. But this approach — labeled dark store theory by critics — significantly broadens the basis for those appeals while threatening to undermine municipalities’ ability to raise operating funds.


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Reply As Big Retailers Seek to Cut Their Tax Bills, Towns Bear the Brunt (Original post)
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Jan 2019 OP
Turbineguy Jan 2019 #1
Igel Jan 2019 #2

Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 10:20 PM

1. It always amazes me

how little many of those who are in business know about economics.

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Response to Turbineguy (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 13, 2019, 12:02 AM

2. House owners do this all the time.

They challenge tax appraised values based on comps: What are similar structures in the area selling for?

The county hates it when some houses sell because even now they sell for less than what the county thinks they should sell for. Then the county "loses" money next time around because it overvalued the property and confused their appraisal with the property's actual worth.

The county assessor knows even less about economics.

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