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Washington County Board Approves 'dark store' referendum
Voters in Washington County will be asked on the November 6, 2018 ballot whether the state Legislature should take action to close the 'dark store' property tax law loophole.

"Wisconsin's entire property tax system is based on equity," said County Administrator Joshua Schoemann. "The current 'dark store' loophole is a threat to this system and risks continued shifting of the property tax burden from commercial and industrial properties to residential taxpayers."

'Dark store' refers to the practice of commercial taxpayers appealing their property tax assessments and, in many cases, owing less in taxes as a result. Commercial retailers argue on the grounds that their buildings should be assessed the same as a vacant building of the same size.

"Our County Board thought it was necessary to ask voters if the equity of the property tax should be preserved and dark store loopholes be eliminated," added Schoemann.

For voters in Washington County, the question will ask:

Should the state legislature enact proposed legislation that closes the Dark Store loopholes, which currently allow commercial retail properties to significantly reduce the assessed valuation and property tax of such properties, resulting in a substantial shift in taxes levied against other tax paying entities, such as residential home owners, and/or cuts in essential services provided by an affected municipality?

According to County Clerk Ashley Reichert, the Advisory Referendum - Property Tax 'Dark Store Loopholes' will be located on the back of the November 6th, 2018 General Election ballot. "As this referendum is advisory, it will empower the citizens of Washington County to share their opinion, in a non-binding manner, on the specific topic of Dark Store Loopholes," she added.