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Friday, April 27, 2018

Are Dark Stores A Wormhole Into Atlas Shrugged?

Some political watchers in Wisconsin seem to be miffed by republicans reluctance to legislatively fix the property tax loophole known as Dark Store.

The loophole, as you probably know, allows large commercial property owners to challenge their property tax bills by claiming excessive assessments using an argument that the structure's assessed value should be no more than that of an abandoned building. State lawmakers are being asked to close the loophole by simply making it illegal to make that argument in Wisconsin courts. Others claim that republicans are ignoring the dilemma because the loophole enriches their political donor base. That's a perception difficult to ignore.

But so far, republicans have not paid a political price for supporting the Dark Store loophole.

There also appears to be a larger picture and goal in mind by those in power who defend the Dark Store loophole.

You see, there are people who also strongly believe that corporations and commercial properties employing a significant number of people are the "makers." They "make" income taxpayers and those incomes pay the bills so government can survive. So in their view, taxpayer creators deserve full tax exemptions because of their favored symbiotic relationship with government.

Their goal is to exempt "maker" employment properties of the burden of paying a property tax because according to "conservative" economic theories, any taxes paid by corporations are passed through and paid by their customers reflected in higher prices of goods and services. That argument however is self-defeating in that it is an admission that corporations and business properties don't pay property taxes anyways.

Unfortunately, the timing of the Dark Store litigation also happens to coincide with a sympathetic public perception that brick and mortar stores are under added strain competing with property tax burdenless internet inventories.

So the Dark Store loophole, at least for now, appears to provide an incremental step into Atlas Shrugged. Wisconsin republicans haven't budged. They know if the loophole can survive long enough, they might be able to formulate a plan to make the tax burden shift appear less painful on residential property taxpayers. If they can make it painless, opposition to fully exempting corporations and large scale brick and mortar of property tax will disappear.

From there, they will be able to go with full-throated privatization of currently held public assets and common use areas by instituting point-of-use fees, which by the way is now a simple automated payment task with our fully digitalized infrastructure.

I've jumped a little ahead of myself with that scenario, but few can argue that current trends toward exempting business and capital of government regulation and taxes act as a fulcrum for turning public assets into private property - a necessary component to reach their Atlas Shrugged utopia.

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