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Wis. Supreme Court: City properly excluded dark store tax comparison for Lowe’s

dark store tax

Shoppers walk in the lot of a Lowe’s home improvement store in Philadelphia recently. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Tax assessors for the city of Delavan properly excluded comparable dark-store valuations when setting a new property tax rate for a Lowe’s Home Center in 2013, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Attorneys for Lowe’s had argued that assessors should have considered what six comparable vacant stores were worth when they revalued the home center at $8.9 million. They argued that had the assessors factored in the vacant stores’ valuation the home center would be worth about $4.6 million.

A state appeals court ruled in 2021 that the assessors’ valuation enjoys a presumption of correctness. The state Supreme Court upheld that decision, ruling unanimously that the Wisconsin Property Assessment Manual recommends that assessors shouldn’t use dark stores as comparable valuations and Lowe’s failed to prove the city’s assessments were excessive.

The court noted, however, that the ruling applies only in the Devalan case and the manual doesn’t strictly prohibit using dark stores as comparable properties or offer any guidance on when a dark store can be compared to an occupied property.

Lowe’s attorney Dan Devany didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment on the ruling.

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