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Walmart is one of Wisconsin’s largest state and local taxpayers. We paid $93.5 million in state and local taxes in the past fiscal year, as well as generated about $194.7 million in sales taxes for the state of Wisconsin.

In this new era of online commerce, some retailers are not obligated to pay or collect any state or local taxes. In fact, some online retailers also receive tax incentives for doing business in the communities we call home. Walmart recognizes the importance of public services that these tax revenues support and we are committed to every community we serve across Wisconsin.

In challenging property assessments, Walmart is not seeking special treatment or public subsidies. We are simply seeking a fair market value for the taxation of our stores, just as any other business or homeowner should expect under Wisconsin’s constitution and state laws. Fair property taxation is critical to our efficient operation and ability to save our customers money.

Unfortunately, as municipal budget deficits have grown, so too has the trend toward overzealous property tax assessments. Challenging these erroneous property assessments does not shift the tax burden to residents. Property taxes are increasing for commercial properties faster than they are increasing for residential, and commercial property owners are paying a greater share of the burden. If we want to keep our local businesses, then we must address this trend. Walmart is a store of the community. We spend more than $4.4 billion with suppliers right here in Wisconsin each year. We employ more than 30,000 Wisconsinites, many of whom are very active in community and civic organizations across the state. Over-assessing commercial properties that have roots in Wisconsin puts local businesses, both big and small, at a disadvantage. Fair treatment of property taxpayers is essential to the future of retail, and fair treatment is all we ask.

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Todd Peterson is Walmart’s regional general manager for Wisconsin.

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