Browsing: Tax Reform

Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers recently introduced Assembly Bill 660, aiming to help employers provide support for working families in meeting the costs of childcare. While the bill’s intentions are commendable, the approach of directly subsidizing employers to create and subsidize childcare slots has proven ineffective in other contexts.

It’s telling that Gov. Evers, Sen. Larson and the rest keep using words like “the wealthy” and “rich” to talk about their targets. The Wisconsin income tax is levied not on wealth that people have saved but on income — what they earn. If you say “rich,” with its implications of inheritance or luck, you don’t have to grapple with how taxes take what someone is working for.

The Badger Institute supports a flat-rate individual income tax, a structure increasingly adopted by competing states. We have spent years researching options for reform that includes a single, low rate. But if that is out of the question as budget negotiations proceed, the priority should be Wisconsin’s top rate.

Among the bills Republicans are considering in the Legislature is one eliminating the last remnants of Wisconsin’s personal property tax. The bill, AB2, sponsored by Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown), would end property taxes on everything but real estate.The move is one the Badger Institute long has advocated.

America is choosing sides and Wisconsin — given the lurch to the left along its borders — can greatly benefit.

Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan are all now among America’s 17 thoroughly blue states where Democrats control both chambers of the legislature as well as the governor’s mansion. We are just one of 11 states with divided government, according to Ballotpedia, and Iowa is one of 22 states that is totally red.

Wisconsin’s top marginal income tax rate—the rate that matters most to the state’s economic competitiveness—remains among the highest in the country. Moving to a flat tax would substantially improve Wisconsin’s tax competitiveness. Separately, repealing the personal property tax would reduce compliance burdens for taxpayers and administrative burdens for the state. As policymakers work on the next biennial budget, each of these policy changes deserves thoughtful consideration.

Wisconsin can — and we think has to — do a lot more to compete with our neighbors. That’s where competition has to take place and with much of the rest of America. Or, watch our children and our neighbors move to states with more jobs and better wages, more opportunity and more prosperity. And those who are left behind at all levels are going to have fewer jobs, less opportunity, and more of the tax burden. People who are left behind are going to bear more of the tax burden. So, to us, the choice would seem clear.

Wisconsin’s flat tax is about what needs to happen next year and the year after that, and down the road even further when our kids are grown and tempted to take that job in Austin because all that’s left here is vacant office space and minimum wage gigs at the local vape shop. It’s about growing the pie the way CROWE assures us can happen.

More than one former Wisconsinite has told me over the years that to be considered a resident of another state – and be exempt from paying Wisconsin’s high taxes without completely abandoning your family and friends back home – you have to spend six months and a day there.

Turns out that’s not true.

Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu has introduced a plan to transition over four years to a flat 3.25% individual income tax from the current four-bracket structure with a top rate of 7.65%.

He discussed the plan in this office in the Capitol Wednesday with Badger Institute President Mike Nichols in this week’s edition of the Institute’s Free Exchange podcast.