Walmart files suit to lower taxes at Superior location

Sep. 5—Walmart Real Estate Business Trust, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, has filed suit against the city of Superior over the assessed value of the Walmart property, again. The retailer is seeking to drop the assessed value of the property from $12.1 million to $7.1 million for 2022.

The suit, filed Aug. 5, is one of dozens of cases the retailer has filed against municipalities throughout Wisconsin since 2017 — and the fifth filed against Superior during that time — that hinge on the dark store theory.

The dark store theory is a tax avoidance strategy used by national big-box retail chains to argue their thriving businesses must be assessed for tax purposes as though they were a vacant property. The Wisconsin Legislature has declined to close the tax loophole since legislation was first introduced in 2017.

Under a settlement agreement reached with Walmart Real Estate Business Trust in 2020, the city of Superior agreed to reduce the store's assessed value by about $750,000 for three years — 2017, 2018 and 2019. That dropped the assessed value from just over $13 million to $12.1 million in 2020.

That didn't stop the retail giant from filing additional suits in 2021 and 2022. The city has 20 days to respond to the newest suit. The 2021 case remains open and is set for a scheduling conference in January.