About the Dark Store Loopholes


Do you think your property taxes are too high?


They could soon be heading even higher if lawmakers don’t close the Dark Store Loopholes in Wisconsin!


Lawyers and lobbyists for big box stores like Target, Walmart, and Menards, as well as a growing number of other commercial and manufacturing properties, are using property tax avoidance strategies known as the Dark Store Loopholes to shift even more of the local property tax burden onto homeowners and small businesses. The two loopholes—one known traditionally as the “dark store loophole” and the other as the “Walgreens loophole”—are together commonly referred to as the Dark Store Loopholes. When big box retailers exploit Dark Store Loopholes to lower their own property taxes, the result is increased property taxes for homeowners and small businesses.


By any measure, homeowners already bear a disproportionate share of the statewide property tax burden in Wisconsin. Homeowners pay 68% of property taxes in Wisconsin, which is much higher than in most other states. Homeowners in Minnesota, for example, pay only 50% of the property tax levy. In 1970, homeowners in Wisconsin also paid only 50% of the tax levy.


Despite that, the Dark Store Loopholes shift even more of the burden of paying for essential local services—like police, fire, and other emergency services—from commercial and manufacturing to homeowners and small businesses. This happens despite the fact that big box stores and other large commercial properties use more of these services than the average homeowner or small business! So, big box stores use more, and by exploiting the Dark Store Loopholes, they will pay less and less.


That is clearly unfair and must be fixed by lawmakers!


There is broad bipartisan support in the Legislature to close both of the Dark Store Loopholes and stop big box retailers from shifting even more of the local tax burden onto the backs of homeowners and small businesses. Last session, two bills closing the Dark Store Loopholes had remarkably broad support among legislators of both parties, and even the Governor said he would sign something if it passed both houses. One bill had 84 co-sponsors (63% of the Legislature), and the other had 61 co-sponsors (46% of the Legislature).


Clearly, these bills would have passed both houses by huge margins, but the Dark Store lobbyists and lawyers prevented them from even coming up for a vote.


Demand that lawmakers stand up to the lawyers and lobbyists and close the Dark Store Loopholes!


For more information about the Dark Store Loophole, click The Dark Store Loophole Explained.


For more information about the Walgreen Loophole, click The Walgreens Loophole Explained.

Dark Store Loopholes allow big box retailers to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes.
Wisconsin homeowners already pay a too-high 68% of property taxes, and may soon pay an even bigger share.
Big box retailers use more municipal services like police & fire, but soon will pay even less for them.
Closing the Dark Store Loopholes has broad bipartisan support, but bills need to be allowed a vote.