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Big-Box Retailers Are Using This Loophole To Shrink Property Taxes

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Walmart, Wal-Mart, walmart stores

Many of America’s largest retailers are suing local governments, asserting their thriving stores should be assigned the same value as a vacant store for tax purposes.

Retailers, including Lowe’s, Walmart and Target, have been exploiting the “dark store loophole," often successfully cutting property taxes by hundreds of thousands of dollars, Bloomberg reports. The strategy relies on launching lawsuits against small towns that lack the cash to effectively fight back, such as Sault Ste. Marie, MI, a town of 14,000 that faces legal bills totaling $100k in its fight against Walmart.

Retailers using this loophole insist they are happy to pay their fair share and are only trying to ensure their properties are fairly taxed—yet while legal battles continue, libraries, roadwork, pensions, and the police and fire departments often go underfunded. In most cases retailers are successfully able to reduce their taxes, sometimes even paying less than what local small businesses pay. [Bloomberg]