There’s a neat trick that big-box stores like Lowe’s have pulled off in some states. They claim that for tax purposes, their open, thriving businesses should be valued the same as empty property, so that they pay way less. In one state, though, a lawmaker being called back for a special session of the legislature is hoping he can end the practice locally.
Texas state Rep. Drew Springer may now get a second chance to close the loophole that allows it, the San Antonio Express-News reports.
How the Dark Store Game Works
This particular chapter in the dark store saga began last year, when Lowe’s challenged its tax bill in several counties in Texas.
To argue it shouldn’t be paying as much in property tax, Lowe’s employed the “dark store” strategy, claiming it should be valued as if it were an empty shell of a big box store instead of a thriving retailer.
The argument goes something like this: Big box stores are a unique use of real estate. If the holder vacates the property, that leaves a big hollow box that it can be extremely challenging to find a new taker for, and that may become a local blighted spot. Empty stores, that have been vacated, are much more literally “dark,” and nobody wants those since they fail to provide revenue, jobs, or anything else of use.