Kivela: Dark Store bill to be introduced in State Senate

LANSING, MICH. — Last year, State Representative John Kivela introduced a bill that would have leveled the playing field for local municipalities and governments in their ongoing battle with big-box stores over how their properties should be taxed.

That bill passed in the house, but died in the senate. Kivela is co-sponsoring the same bill introduced in the house this week.

Bill 4397 would force the Michigan Tax Tribunal to make independent decisions when issuing a determination in a commercial property case. In the past, big-box stores have successfully argued that their taxes should be reduced by what’s called the dark store argument.

The stores believe the value of their property should be compared to the value of similar closed and vacant stores that are worth far less. Kivela says the plan is to try and introduce the bill in the senate next week.

“I think the idea is we’re going to try work it through, identify a good path through the senate because if you think about this, it died in the senate last time. There’s no sense trying to do the heavy lifting in the house to find out that we may or may not have a path through the senate. So, we’ll start it there first,” said Kivela.

The bill has referred to the Committee on Tax Policy. According to Kivela, the property tax loophole has taken millions of dollars out of communities across the state.