AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) applauds the Maine House of Representatives’ bipartisan vote today to prevent big box retailers from using a tax scheme called ‘dark store theory’ to dramatically reduce their property valuations.
“This is a matter of fairness. The services, infrastructure, and amenities funded by property taxes increase our quality of life and help businesses succeed,” said Sarah Austin, MECEP director of policy and research. “But large, multi-national big-box retailers increasingly turn to dark store theory to get out of paying what they should. When they get away with it, small businesses and homeowners are forced to pay more to make up the difference. This bill will help ensure that big-box retailers pay what they owe and protect Maine small businesses and homeowners.”
House members passed LD 1129, An Act Relating to the Valuation of Retail Sales Facilities sponsored by Representative Ann Matlack. The bill amends the rules of assessment to make it clear that retail properties should be assessed the same as other open retail facilities, and not as abandoned, economically unviable property. This bill would protect municipal budgets and prevent large retailers from shifting costs to homeowners and smaller businesses. MECEP calls on the Maine Senate and Governor Mills to stand up for Maine small businesses and homeowners and pass this bill into law.
A 2019 report published by MECEP surveyed the 25 Maine towns with the highest retail sales and found 17 had box store appeals of their property tax valuations and that companies were requesting valuations to be reduced by 34 percent on average.
Click here for updated summary on the status of box store assessment appeals filed since the 2019 report.