Houghton community members hold demonstration against Walmart tax appeal

Demonstrators from the community held up signs at the corner of M-26 and Razorback Dr.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:32 PM EDT
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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - A demonstration was held outside Houghton’s Walmart store on Wednesday over its property tax appeal.

It started at 2 o’clock and lasted three hours.

Demonstrators from the community held up signs at the corner of M-26 and Razorback Dr.

Their message that Walmart does not deserve special tax treatment was clear.

“It’s the most successful and most profitable retail business in the history of Houghton County,” said Houghton County District 3 Commissioner Glenn Anderson. “There’s not been one like it on the retail side, ever. And they want to decrease their property taxes even after they’re agreed in writing not to. Plus, it’s just not fair to the rest of the taxpayers in Houghton County.”

Currently, Walmart has filed for a tax appeal on its Houghton store, utilizing a ‘dark store’ loophole that reduces property taxes and could cost the community millions. This is despite preexisting agreements.

The community hopes that by holding this demonstration, shoppers will inquire within the store as to why they are outside.

“The goal is not to reduce their business, not to cause any harm to their employees because it’s vital to our economy, but it’s to get their attention,” continued Anderson. “For the manager and the administration of Walmart to call up their corporate office and say ‘You gotta do something, you gotta settle this, you gotta pay your fair share.’”

Anderson says to expect further demonstrations like this as the legal battle continues.

“I think the city of Houghton has taken the gloves off in their PR campaign against Walmart,” added Anderson. “Because Walmart has not negotiated in good faith, so the only way to get Walmart’s attention is to try and get some negative publicity against this particular store.”

This loophole is not only affecting Houghton but other areas of the U.P. as well.