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Uppity Wisconsin - Progressive Webmasters

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September 02, 2009


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Dale Knapp, WISTAX Research Director

As one of the co-authors of the report, I have to take exception with your criticism here. This report was not about the overall tax burden or the "burden placed on Wisconsin taxpayers by state government." Rather, it was simply a report on the income tax. The study looked at: Wisconsin's income tax relative to other states; the income tax burden at various income levels; the state's reliance on the tax; the standard deduction and credits available for lower-income filers; and finally, recent changes. The companion piece was a short article on the property tax, again a look at one individual tax, not the entire state or state-local tax burden. We often do report on individual taxes to help people understand them and put them in context. We have written previously about the sales tax, corporate income tax, and other smaller taxes (cigarette, utility, etc.). I understand your criticism of our reports on the total tax burden, which we publish when the Census Bureau figures come out. However, I will say that, if you read those publications, we generally report the tax burden and the tax+fee burden. However, as previously stated, this report was not meant to look at the broad picture, but rather to help people understand the income tax and place it in some sort of context.

Leon Burzynski

Regardlesss of what the co-author of the report claims was his mission, the fact of the matter is that the premise was, and is, misleading. The radio talking heads and groups like the Taxpayers Alliance continually harp about the tax level and neglect to compare the total cost to support public services on a state by state basis. He said they do compare when writing about the census report -- every ten years -- big deal!

Tim Duehring

Perhaps he should move to Florida.,8599,1919916,00.html

Ronald Kent

The taxpayer movement which WTA is part of came out of the peroid of the Great Depression and was dedicated to fighting the New Deal policies of FDR. Many of these non-partisan tax fronts were dedicated to undermining the reforms FDR and others were fighting for. We should always inquire where such tax fronts receive their funding and always look at their use of language-"tax burden" has been tested by right wing think tanks and focus groups as an effective phrase to undermine progressive tax proposals for many years. What is really interesting is that the Wisconsin income tax came into being with the help of a progressive Republican Governor, Francis McGovern in 1911. Now the Republican Party of Wisconsin has a plank in its platform to abolish the income tax. Tax fairness never seems to be an issue that engages the minds of some our erstwhile "neutral" advocates. Peace, Ronald Kent


How does one accurately or nearly accurately compare one state with another their taxes.

States have different:
income tax rates (some have local income taxes)
property tax rates
drivers license fees
motor vehicle plate fees (some are based on age and/or value of the vehicle)
sales taxes (some have special local sales taxes)
water and sewage fees
garbage collection fees
building code fees

States don't all provide all of the same services to their citizens either. Or the same quality of services. What may work in one state may not in another.

There may be hidden taxes as a result of poor quality services. Hidden taxes being costs associated with individuals incurring repairs as a result of roads constructed poorly or serviced poorly in inclement weather, flooding of homes or infrastructure, combined sewage and overflow drainages or separate, utility failures, etc.

Michael A. Shea

Maybe we need to shake things up here. Why not have a reality show called "Trading Taxes" where a dozen families exchange homes, schools, jobs, and - of course - taxes for a year. A dozen families from Wisconsin who are closely connected with WTA and a dozen families from Arkansas who are closely connected to Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (an effective, pro-government services organzation) would have to experience firsthand the different systems of taxes/fees and services.

We can argue about rankings till we are blue in the face. Let's see how reality television can shape public opinion.

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