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Report: ‘Dark store’ tax appeals more common

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new report shows more businesses are trying to lower their property taxes by making so-called dark-store appeals.

In these sorts of appeals, retailers and other businesses that their property tax assessments should be calculated mainly by looking at sales of similar properties, even if those properties are vacant. Critics argue that it’s not fair to set the value of an in-use store by taking into consideration one that has been abandoned.

The nonpartisan research organization Wisconsin Policy Forum on Tuesday released a survey of 215 communities finding that there were 79 dark-store appeals last year, up from 63 in 2016 and 66 in 2015. Sixty of the appeals involved municipalities with more than 15,000 residents.

The Legislature considered a bill this past session that would have prohibited assessors from comparing active stores’ property values to dark stores but the proposal never got a vote in either the Assembly or Senate.

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