Legislation being introduced at the Capitol could change the way major retailers have their property taxes assessed.
The package of bills from Republican lawmakers would reverse a 2008 State Supreme Court ruling that changed how commercial property values are determined. The ruling essentially allows taxes to be based on the value of the building itself, rather than also considering factors such as the value of the business. Commercial property owners have used the decision to argue against their property assessments using factors such as vacant, or “dark,” properties in the area.
During a news conference at the Capitol Wednesday, state Representative Rob Brooks (R-Saukville) argued that ways of assessing properties was not the intent of the state tax code. “What we’re looking to do is draw a line in the sand here and say the courts…have overstepped their boundaries here in the state.”
Brooks and other Republicans have introduced two bills, which would more clearly define what counts as a “dark store” and that commercial property are to be assessed at their “highest and best use.”
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state business lobby, opposes the bills. In a memo sent to lawmakers, the group argued they could dramatically change the way property is valued in the state. “This legislation would fly in the face of current law, overruling what the courts have said. This could dramatically increase the cost to do business in Wisconsin, but it could also have unintended consequences for all property owners,” the memo argued.