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'Dark store' issue requires legislative fix

Please tell your state legislators today to close 'dark store' assessing theory loophole

bigboxstorewordsweb_1.jpgLegislation is needed to ensure equitable, fair determinations on property tax appeal cases before the Michigan Tax Tribunal and put an end to the "dark store" assessing theory.

In recent years, the Michigan Tax Tribunal has used this theory when determining the assessed value of fully functional big box retail stores. The result is much lower than expected property valuations because, instead of the true cash value, the property is compared to the sales of vacant structures that most often have deed restrictions that severely limit their use. This has also led to buildings being kept empty and adding to the blight problem in Michigan townships.

Once limited to primarily "big box" stores, this issue now has a much larger impact to state and local governments, as fast food restaurants, auto parts stores and national chain pharmacies are seeking the same treatment—all at the expense of local governments, their residents and other businesses in the community.

For townships and other local governments, this issue is about far more than their budgets—money that could be spent on fire protection, roads or economic development. It is about ensuring that all taxpayers pay their fair share and that all properties are being properly valued. MTA has testified before the House Tax Policy Committee on multiple occasions about this issue. We were also part of a workgroup that worked toward a legislative fix.

Legislation is expected to be introduced would create a level playing field based on sound appraisal principles by eliminating the dark store "loophole"—allowing the use of bad comparables and deed restrictions—that has been used far too often. MTA is working with lawmakers to ensure that the bill would provide a fair, transparent process for all property tax assessment disputes heard by the entire tribunal for more equitable determinations.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the MTA Government Relations Department.

This page last updated on 1/3/2017.

Get an overview of the issue, and talking points, with our MTA On the Issues--Dark Stores one-pager.

Learn more about the "dark store" theory in the April issue of Township Voice and the November issue of Township Focus!

Has your township been impacted by the “dark store” assessing theory, either with a Michigan Tax Tribunal decision or settlement? Please let MTA know! We are working to share the impact of this practice to local units with legislators. Please contact us at legislation@michigantownships.org.

MTA is part of a coalition speaking out against the "dark store" assessing theory. Together, we sent a press release to the media calling for the Legislature to close the "dark store" loophole. We also sent a joint coalition letter to members of the House Tax Policy Committee asking them to move quickly to solve this crisis, as well as a joint statement in response to the committee reporting the bill.

"Dark store" assessing theory is in the news! Read more on what others are saying about this practice.

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