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Lockdown property tax relief

By M.D. Kittle 

Wisconsin Spotlight | Aug. 13, 2020

MADISON — State Rep. Rob Hutton is proposing a bill that would deliver property tax relief for businesses hit hard twice —  by COVID-19 and the Evers administration’s statewide lockdowns that followed.

The Brookfield Republican sent out a memo Wednesday seeking co-sponsorship for the proposal.

Businesses whose gross receipts dropped during the pandemic public health emergency, compared to the same time period in 2019, would be able to subtract a portion of the property taxes owed on their commercial properties.

“On March 24th, Governor Evers issued a Safer at Home order shutting down vast sections of Wisconsin’s economy. Overnight, local small business owners who had spent their lives building and maintaining a dream were suddenly crushed as they were forced to close their businesses, through no fault of their own,” Hutton said in a statement.

An analysis by the Center for Research on Wisconsin on the Wisconsin Economy (CROWE), at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found 40 percent of Wisconsin businesses were closed in the worst of the pandemic and lockdowns, with employment down more than 50 percent.

A survey done by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce showed that three quarters of Wisconsin businesses reported that the government mandated shutdown had a negative impact on their businesses. Additionally, in April, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association estimated 30 percent of their members would not survive.

“In spite of the government inflicting significant economic pain in order to accomplish the goal of flattening the curve, the government has been slow to offer significant help to those businesses who were forced to close,” Hutton said. “One area of concern is that, while government did not allow businesses to operate during Safer at Home, they are still collecting property taxes on those businesses that were not allowed to be open during that time.”

The lawmaker said it’s “fundamentally unfair” for businesses to have to pay a government that required them to close. That’s why Hutton said he’s introducing the tax relief bill.

“This deduction will cover property taxes for the time of the Safer at Home order when those businesses were not allowed to be open or forced to operate at limited capacity,” he said.

Learn more about the bill here. 

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