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WTA Says Property Tax Influence Lessening After Changes


As federal officials debate tax reform, a state tax watchdog group says Wisconsin is already reforming the state property tax system.

Wisconsin Taxpayer's Alliance spokesperson David Callender says about half of the state's general fund budget goes to various assistance to local governments. Even with that, Wisconsin's property tax is 15th highest in the U.S. and also above the national average. The state's property tax is the largest tax at $11 billion per year.

Callender says there has been some shifts away from funding certain government services using the property tax...

"....what we've seen is the property tax is no longer funding one state service. There was a little piece of the property tax that went to state forestry services. That was eliminated in the current budget. Over time we've seen a shift away from using the property tax from funding the technical college system...."

The technical college levy statewide has been roughly cut in half. Two committees are looking at technical college funding and the personal property tax. Many exceptions to the tax are in place including furnishings, livestock, crops, machinery and more.

Callender thinks there will be a rethinking of how services are funded through the property tax...

"....what are the services that are most appropriately funded by the property tax? Are they human services from the counties, are they K-12 education from the schools...are they more directly related services like police and fire protection by municipalities? You may not see a huge shift, but more of this gradual shift we've been seeing...."

Callender says the recent changes have permanently removed about 7 percent of property taxes.

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