Casperson to re-introduce legislation to address dark store issue

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DELTA COUNTY -- Upper Peninsula State Senator Tom Casperson says he will re-introduce legislation that would close tax loopholes known as “dark store” loopholes that big box stores use to appeal their tax assessments to the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

Legislation to do that passed in the House last term, but died in the Senate.

Casperson tells the Radio Results Network that’s because Committee Chairman Jack Brandenburg (R-Macomb) wouldn’t allow it out of committee because he felt that it would be a tax increase on these stores like Menard’s, Lowes, and Meijer.

Casperson says that he’s changing his tactics this time.

“I’m actually going to start talking to leadership to see if they’ll give me another day in court, in a different committee,” Casperson told RRN News. “We’re going to try to switch committees on it, and the committee that we’re looking at, the senator’s pretty favorable to our take on this. I think we can get the votes, if we can get a hearing on it and get people to vote. I think we can win them over, much like they did in the House.”

Casperson says that when big stores win their cases at the Michigan Tax Tribunal, arguing that their assessments should be based on if their buildings were empty, then local units of government lose thousands of dollars in revenue.

Delta County Administrator Ryan Bergman says he’s happy with Senator Casperson’s pledge to try again when it comes to “dark store” legislation.

Bergman tells the Radio Results Network that counties across Michigan have been hurt by big box stores winning their tax appeals at the Michigan Tax Tribunal. And he agrees with Casperson that it’s all political.

“I think he hit the nail on the head when he’s talking about how it’s politically-motivated,” Bergman told RRN News. “You’ve got the Retailers Associations knowing that the best way to get public support to fight something is to say that it’s a tax increase."

Bergman says another problem is that when the overall amount of taxes the county can take in is lowered by these rulings, then the millage that the county collects for things like 9-1-1 and the new jail goes up. Which he says amounts to a tax increase for everybody else.

He adds that big box stores have enough advantages like buying in bulk and national advertising deals without Michigan giving them a tax advantage that is not granted to small businesses.


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