dark store loophole

Michigan Senator Ed McBroom

LANSING, MI--   Escanaba City Manager Patrick Jordan testified before the state Senate Finance Committee Wednesday in support of Senator Ed McBroom’s bill to close the “dark store” tax loophole.

The legislation would revise the way property taxes are assessed on vacant “big box” stores. It would end the process of placing deed restrictions on closed stores – a move used to lower a building’s market value.

The bill remains before the committee for further consideration.

LANSING, MI--   Two Upper Peninsula lawmakers oppose Governor Whitmer’s reappointment of Victoria Enyart to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. 

Representative Sara Cambensy and Senator Ed McBroom say Enyart has been instrumental in holding up efforts to abolish the “dark store” tax loophole. It allows big-box retailers to say their stores can’t easily be resold, so they should be taxed as though they’re empty or dark. The lawmakers say that reduces the amount of revenue needed for public safety and education.

LANSING, MI--   Four Upper Peninsula lawmakers have sent Governor Gretchen Whitmer a letter urging her to support the city of Escanaba in its “dark store” case. 

The city filed a lawsuit against the practice of allowing stores to be valued as if they were vacant in local tax assessments. The litigation is currently before the Michigan Tax Tribunal. The letter asks the governor to increase the $250,000 cap on state support to help Escanaba fight the dark store practice in court.

ESCANABA, MI (AP)--   Local governments in the Upper Peninsula are raising money to pay expert witnesses in a major dispute over the taxable value of big-box stores.

The Michigan Tax Tribunal will hear a case next year involving a Menards store in Escanaba. City Manager Patrick Jordan says Escanaba is trying to raise $200,000, which would trigger another $200,000 from the state Treasury Department.

Jordan says approximately $171,000 has been raised. Marquette County has given $10,000.

LANSING, MI--   Officials from the City of Escanaba were in Lansing last week, arguing their case against the “dark store” tax loophole. 

The city is taking on Menards in the Michigan Supreme Court, saying the store isn’t paying its share of property taxes. Menards and other big-box stores have argued they should be taxed as if their stores were empty. But municipalities say that takes much-needed revenue away from local governments.

LANSING, MI--   State Representative John Kivela has been honored by the Michigan Association of Counties for his work on “dark store” legislation. 

The Marquette Democrat was given the 2017 County Advocate Award on Tuesday. Last year he introduced a bill to close a property tax loophole that let “big box” stores be assessed as though their buildings were empty and unused. It passed the House but died in Senate Committee.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   A bipartisan group of state lawmakers and local officials will try again this year to shut down a tax break that’s allowed big box stores to cut their property taxes. 

The so-called “dark store” loophole allows open and functioning big-box stores to base their property taxes on the value of stores that have been shut down. The value of the empty stores can be further reduced by restrictions on who can buy them.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The city of Escanaba is taking on big box stores in the Michigan Supreme Court. The city says the home improvement store Menards is dodging taxes. 

It’s called the “dark store” loophole, and it’s been used more often in recent years by the Michigan Tax Tribunal when assessing property taxes.

It determines property taxes for fully-functioning retailers like Target and Wal-Mart based on nearby empty stores.