Property Taxpayers United for Fairness and Reform Since 1985
2nd Quarter 2016
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Meet Our Staff
Tax Help & Information
Simply fill out the form below to leave your comments and
opinions. We will be glad to assist you in any way possible.
will advocate for:
-Restoring the "beginning farmer" tax credit
-$5000 refundable tax credit
-$5000 tax deduction
-Provides beginning farmers with interest-free loans
-Eliminate capital gains tax for farmers who sell to beginning farmers
Together, lets work to restore our family farming heritage.
For more information call: 1-800-994-9784
John Jacobson (L), WPT's Legislative Director & Bert Vosters (R) WPT's AG Members Representative
WPT was quite busy at Farm Tech Days! We had tons of members stop by to say hello, and many new people interested in the mission of our organization stopped by to explain their flawed property assessment stories, or share their ideas on how to grow small business. Also, a few lucky names were drawn from our membership raffle and will be joining the WPT family for the next year!
Farm Tech Days Drawing Winners
Congratulations to our winners! You won a complimentary one year membership with WPT valued at $100!
Tuesday, August 25th
Eric Speckher of Sparta
Sam Stressep Sr. of
Wednesday, August 26th
Roxanne Lots of Chetek
John Shefer of Bark Road
Thursday, August 27th
Gerald Boelter of Markesan
Jim Becker of Cty Rd Q
Please call John with your questions regarding your one year membership at 608-255-7473 or drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Official Web sites of various state offices and agencies
Wisconsin in U.S. Congress
Senate: Ron Johnson
Senate: Tammy Baldwin
District 1: Paul Ryan
District 2: Mark Pocan
District 3: Ron Kind
District 4: Gwen Moore
District 5: Jim Sensenbrenner
District 6: Glenn Grothman
District 7: Sean Duffy
District 8: Reid Ribble
Governor, Executive Branch
On February 3, 2015, Governor Walker delivered his budget address.
• Budget in Brief READ
• 2015-17 Executive Budget (Complete Document) READ
• About the Budget Documents READ
• How to Read the 2015-17 Executive Budget READ
• Statewide Budget and Position Summaries READ
Although Wisconsin finished its budget on July 12, it was one of six states that had not enacted a budget by July 1. As of July 20, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania were still awaiting budgets for FY 2016. Of states with budgets in place, three enacted biennial budgets during 2014. (source: NCSL)
*an interactive almanac
of U.S. politics
Who We Are
and What We Do
Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc. (WPT)
is the voice of Wisconsin’s property taxpayers in the State Capitol, working to reduce the statewide property tax burden and reform Wisconsin’s antiquated and regressive property tax system.
Founded in 1985, WPT represents the interests of thousands of commercial, agricultural and residential property taxpayers throughout the state who volunteer their financial support and personal commitment to the organization and its objectives.
WPT is the only statewide taxpayers’ organization registered with the Ethics Division of the State’s Government Accountability Board to lobby exclusively for property tax relief and reform.
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WPT’s experienced government relations specialists, field representatives and technical support staff conduct a variety of activities including legislative analysis, policy and opinion research, media relations, public information and legislative liaison service, to increase public and legislative support for the organization’s public policy objectives.
WPT regularly communicates with members through personal contact, newsletters, member surveys, policy briefs and legislative action alerts.
WPT assists members in dealing with local property tax issues and answers members’ questions related to assessments, property tax exemptions, state laws and administrative rules, and provides information useful in appealing and reducing their property tax liability.
For more information about who we are, what we do, and what we have helped to accomplish over the years, go here
Sign up here to receive the weekly
Capitol Report along with other
WPT is the voice of Wisconsin’s Property Taxpayers, your voice, in the Wisconsin State Legislature. Whether you have a comment, a thought to share, a question about your assessment or property tax bill, how your property tax dollars are spent, what’s going on in the Legislature, or any of a thousand property tax related questions we answer for our members, WPT wants to hear from you.
If you are not a member, but would like to join the thousands of taxpayers
around the state who support
and rely on us to protect their
interests in the Legislature
click on the “Join Us Now!”
to get started.
Read the 2016
1st QTR Newsletter!
Read the 2016
1st QTR Newsletter online.
WPT Newsletters are published
4 times a year, and are mailed directly to our members. To view previous editions and other publications in our Media archive click the link below.
How Property Taxes Work
August 1, 2011 04:18 PM ITEP
The property tax is the oldest major revenue source for state and local governments. At the beginning of the twentieth century, property taxes represented more than eighty percent of state and local tax revenue. While this share has diminished over time as states have introduced sales and income taxes, the property tax remains an important mechanism for funding education and other local services. This policy brief discusses why property is taxed and how property taxes are calculated.
Why Tax Property?
The property tax is rooted largely in the “benefits principle” of taxation. Under this view, the property tax essentially functions as a user-charge on local residents for the benefits they receive from the local policies funded by property taxes. These policies benefit local residents directly in the form of better schools and fire protection, and indirectly in the form of increased housing values.
The property tax also helps differentiate between families of very different means by taxing families with large quantities of wealth more heavily than those without such reserves. But the impact that property taxes can have on low-income families, and particularly the elderly, makes clear that the linkage of the property tax to the ability-to-pay principle is far from perfect.
Finally, the stability and enforceability of the property tax make it among the best options available for providing local governments with a predictable revenue stream that can be used to fund indispensable services like schools, roads, and public safety.
How Property Taxes Work
Historically, property taxes applied to two kinds of property: real property, which includes land and buildings, and personal property,
such as cars, boats,
and the value of
stocks and bonds.
Most states have
moved away from
property and now
primarily on real
In its simplest form, the real property tax is calculated by multiplying the value of land and buildings by the tax rate. Property tax rates are normally expressed in mills. A mill is one-tenth of one percent. In the most basic system, an owner of a property worth $100,000 that is subject to a 25 mill (that is, 2.5 percent) tax rate would pay $2,500 in property taxes. In reality, however, property taxes are often more complicated than this. The first step in the property tax process is determining a property’s value for tax purposes. In most cases, this means estimating the property’s market value, the amount the property would likely sell for.
The second step is determining the property’s assessed value, its value for tax purposes. This is done by multiplying the property’s market value by an assessment ratio, which is a percentage ranging from zero to one hundred. Many states base their taxes upon actual market value—in other words, these states use a 100 percent assessment ratio. A significant number of states, however, assess property at only a fraction of its actual value. New Mexico assesses homes at 33.3 percent of their market value, and Arkansas uses a 20 percent assessment ratio. Some states place a cap on increases in a home’s assessed value in any given year, which in many cases can lead to vastly different assessment ratios among similarly valued homes (For more detail, see ITEP Brief, “Capping Assessed Valuation Growth: A Primer”). And even when the law says properties should be assessed at 100 percent of their value, local assessors at times systematically under-assess property, reporting assessed values that are substantially less than the real market value of the property.
After the assessment ratio has been factored in, many states reduce a property’s assessed value further by allowing exemptions. The most common type of exemption is referred to as a “homestead exemption.” In Ohio, for example, the state allows an exemption for the first $25,000 of home value. Subtracting all exemptions yields the taxable value of a property. (For more on homestead exemptions, see ITEP Brief, “Property Tax Homestead Exemptions”).
The next step in the process is applying a property tax rate, also known as a millage rate, to the property’s taxable value. The millage rate is usually the sum of several tax rates applied by several different jurisdictions: for example, one property might be subject to a municipal tax, a county tax, and a school district tax. This calculation yields the tentative property tax before credits.
Many states allow property tax credits that either directly reduce the property tax bill, or that reimburse part of the property tax bill separately when taxpayers apply for them. Subtracting these credits is the final step in calculating one’s property tax bill—though taxpayers are often required to pay the pre-credit property tax amount, only to later have the amount of the credit refunded to them. (For more detail on one type of property tax credit, see ITEP brief, “Property Tax Circuit Breakers”).
Other Property Tax Issues
While property taxes on owner-occupied homes tend to receive the most attention, the presence (or absence) of tax on other forms of property also has important implications.
Businesses pay property taxes just like local residents. Property taxes on businesses are mostly borne by business owners. Business property taxes generally make the property tax less regressive, since business owners tend to be wealthier than average.
Property taxes also impact taxpayers who rent, rather than own their home. This is because owners of rental real estate pass through some of their tax liability to renters in the form of higher rents. The impact of property taxes on renters is of particular concern because renters tend to be significantly less well-off than their homeowner neighbors.
Non-profit entities are generally exempt from state and local property taxes. While these exemptions can make it easier for these organizations to pursue their missions, it can mean that local governments have difficulty raising the revenue needed to provide quality public services. This issue is most significant in areas with large non-profit hospitals and/or universities. PDF
Wisconsin Property Taxes
You can choose any county from our list of Wisconsin counties for detailed information on that county's property tax, and the contact information for the county tax assessor's office.
DOR Guides for Property Taxpayers
Go here this link takes you away from this site
2015 Assessors Guide for
Go here PDF
2nd Quarter | April 2016
Educate and inform the whole mass of the people...They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. —Thomas Jefferson
WPT Legislative Director
News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin
Good evening to everyone! We hope you had a relaxing weekend, and that you were able to spend some quality time with those around you.
This week, we're going to talk about recent employment numbers, and break down what they mean. We'll also share the
results from last week's poll, and sit down with Representative Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa), who represents Wisconsin's 72nd Assembly District in the Legislature.
We hope you have a great week ahead, and as always, if there is a story you would like to see featured in the WPT Capitol Report, please feel free to reach out directly at email@example.com.
All the best for a great week ahead,
Governor Walker travels state to highlight
tax relief measures since taking office
From a school in Eau Claire, companies in Wausau and Appleton, to a farm in La Crosse, Governor Walker last week put on some mileage as he traveled the state to tout the $4.7 billion in tax relief measures that he's pushed since taking office in January of 2011.
According to a release from Governor Walker's office, the numbers broke down like this:
Property Taxes: Since taking office, the typical homeowner in Wisconsin saw their property taxes increase by 27% in the previous decade. Due to various initiatives since 2011, including the $406 million reduction in 2013, homeowners according to the Governor, have seen a decline of $116 on their tax bill, or cumulatively saved $1,227 compared to the previous four year trend.
Income and Withholding Tax Cuts: A median-income family of four will save $916 over four years from income tax rate cuts. In the 2013-2015 budget, there was a $650 million individual income tax relief item. In the 2015-2017 budget, the marriage penalty was removed.
Manufacturing & Agriculture Tax Credits: Agricultural producers and manufacturers have seen a production tax credit fully phased in through this year. Governor Walker also mentioned the passage of sales tax exemption for machinery, equipment, and building materials used in fertilizer blending, feed million, and grand handling operations, which according to his office's projections, will save the agriculture community around $1.6 million annually.
The governor also mentioned education tax deductions, which allow tax filers who pay for private K-8 tuition to claim a $4,000 deduction, and a $10,000 deduction for grades 9-10.
The latest Midwest income tax match-up
Last week, we included a short five-question survey and quiz in our Capitol Report regarding the income tax. Let's take a look at the results.
First, we were glad to see than 100% of respondents had already filed their 2015 income tax by the time they took our survey. It's causes a lot of stress and generally a migraine the size of Texas, but once it's finished and filed, it usually feels good...depending on how much or if you owe...
When we asked if you owe or if you're receiving a refund, 50% of respondents are getting some cash back from the government, and 50% owe the government. According to CNN, about 8 in 10 tax filers receive a refund, and the IRS recently announced that it still has one BILLION dollars in unclaimed refunds from 2011.
Let's bring it a little closer to home. Take a look at the match-up:
Source: Tax Foundation, 2015.
When we asked you to guess which Midwest state, of these five, had the highest income tax, 60% of you guessed Illinois! That was followed by a 15% share for both Wisconsin and Minnesota, and 10% of you guessed Michigan. The 15% of you who guessed Minnesota were obviously correct, and their state ranks #1 in the Midwest and #6 nationally.
50% of respondents guessed World War 1 for when the income tax began, but those of you who guessed the Civil War, you would be correct. On August 5th, 1861, President Lincoln signed the Revenue Act, which imposed the first Federal Income Tax on residents for a much-needed source of cash to continue funding the war. It was a 3% tax on incomes over $800. The law was later repealed by Congress in 1871, and 38 years later, passed the 16th Amendment, which implemented the federal income tax system we use today.
Finally, more than 65% of respondents said that both the Federal and State income taxes were equally burdensome, and just wanted to know where the money went.
To put it simply, on the state level, your income tax dollars go into and make up a fraction of the General Purpose Revenue (GPR) fund. Some of the largest expenditures to come out of that fund are categorical and school aids (34.4%), medicaid (15.7%), and the UW System (8%). Using a graph from the McIver Institute, here's a more comprehensive breakdown...
Taking a look at the Federal Income Tax breakdown, we see that nearly half, or 47% of federal revenue comes from the individual income tax. Let's take a closer look at where federal dollars come from...
And how do these dollars get spent?
Hey! Hey! Don't forget the weekly survey!
Next week, we are going to talk a little more in-depth about property taxes in Wisconsin.
Click here to take the short 5 question survey and quiz, and we'll share the results next week. All responses are anonymous, so take less than a minute to answer!
Here are the latest jobs numbers,
but what do they mean...
Earlier this month, we learned that Wisconsin's unemployment ticked down a notch in March from where it was in April, leaving our state at 4.5%, still better than the national unemployment of 5% in March. The state added about 11,500 non-farm jobs, with the private sector gaining 13,100 jobs, and the public sector losing 1,600.
10,000 jobs lost here, 12,000 jobs gained there...we hear a lot about jobs numbers. Every month, we get some indication that jobs are picking up, but you still know people who are jobless and the picture doesn't look any brighter for them. We hear lots of different terms and numbers; the labor participation rate, jobless rate, unemployment rate...
The labor participation rate is the number of people in an economy who are either working, or actively looking for work. The number of people who are no longer looking for work are not included in this number.
What about the difference between jobless and unemployed? To a lot of people, the two sound remarkably similar. They're actually quite different.
Unemployed means you are actively looking for work, according to the U.S. Government, and jobless is if you are not working at all. This brings us to the "missing workers," or people who are not employed or seeking a job due to weak opportunities or any other reason.
Because jobless workers are only counted as unemployed if they are actively looking for work, missing workers are not reflected in the unemployment rate.
In other words, our unemployment rate is always higher than what the numbers say. According the economic policy institute, the total number for missing workers last month was about 2.2 million, which would mean the unemployment rate would actually be 6.3% if they were actively searching for work. Officially, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that the unemployment rate sits at 5%.
Family man Scott Krug's experiences
led him to make a difference
He describes his family as a "real life Brady Bunch." Six kids, "some hers, some mine, one ours." WPT had the opportunity to sit down with family man and State Representative Scott Krug, the Republican lawmaker from Adams County, representing Wisconsin's 72nd Assembly District.
The family lives in the Town of Rome, and will take any opportunity to fish, boat or swim- a water hobby family, and living in the perfect spot. It was pretty evident that Representative Krug is a devout father, and husband and relishes any time he gets to spend with his family, but it's also immediately apparent that he got elected to make a difference.
His story starts after college when he became a law enforcement officer in Juneau County. "After a couple of years on the road and [working] in the jail system, I noticed the same people coming back all too often, and thought I could help make a difference by helping them find jobs."
He later worked as a Jail Discharge Planner and Drug Court Coordinator, and that's where he says he got a great grasp on the balance between public safety and the use of the taxpayer dollar. "I wanted to give people a hand up instead of a hand out." Doesn't that sound more sustainable? This also remained true in his work at the FoodShare program in the Green Bay job center, where he worked to provide individuals with job skills that they didn't have before.
The way he saw it, not only was he helping those in need, but he was "helping take the burden off taxpayers in social program costs, and at the same time create new taxpayers to lessen the overall burden on everyone." Building on that concept is what led him to seek public office in 2010.
"We are rebuilding an economy in Central Wisconsin," he said. "To do this, we are relying on our tourism appeal and natural beauty to rebuild." He talked a bit about the Tax Incremental Financing bill that he authored for the Town of Rome, allowing the town to grow faster from the Sand Valley mega golf resort project, slated to open in 2017. The new law allowed the Town of Rome to partner in the development of the area, and prompted investors to put tens of millions more than originally planned, according to Krug.
He said developments like these make his work on high capacity wells even more important. "As we strike a balance between agriculture and tourism in my district we have to realize they don't always mesh in the same area. Too much strain on our environment in South Wood County and North Adams County will take away the tourism draw we have worked so hard to nurture. At the same time, we need to be careful not to chase away an equally important agriculture sector that provides a great deal for Adams and Washara County jobs." He added, "The balance does exist, and I have worked tirelessly over the past three-plus years to strike that balance, achieve some compromise, and keep both sectors vital in Central Wisconsin."
We asked the three-term lawmaker to share his aspirations for the upcoming legislative session, if re-elected. Groundwater issues came up, as well as more infrastructure support for his district which will continue to bolster the new big developments in the area.
"We are on the verge of some really big things for Wood, Adams, Portage, and Waushara Counties, and I am excited to keep playing a key role in our recovery."
$100 million in Wisconsin dairy exports at risk
Canada is taking steps that will halt imports of ultra-filtered milk from the United States. That could mean losing about $100 million annually from Wisconsin.
The filtered milk they are referring to is a protein liquid concentrate that is routinely used to make cheese. But lately Canadian dairy farmers have been objecting to duty-free imports, and unlike whole milk, the protein liquid concentrate currently enters Canada without duty.
Grassland Dairy Products in Greenwood has written a letter to Tom Vilsack, U.S. Agriculture Secretary, expressing their concerns with the potential move by Canada. WPT will keep you up to date as this issue continues to unfold.
Ladysmith paper mill cited by OSHA
Clearwater Paper Corp, which operates a napkin, paper towel, and tissue plant in Ladysmith is being slapped with a $119,000 fine by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA concluded that in the death of a 46 year old machine operator at the plant in October of last year, the company failed to "ensure that the power to the equipment was ocked out before the employee entered a hazerdous area."
OSHA's Eau Claire director called the man's death tragic and "preventable."
BILLS IN CIRCULATION
These are bills that are being circulated for co-sponsor-ship by lawmakers in the State Capitol.
WPT thought our members might be interested in seeing some of the bills that might have an impact on small business, agriculture, or taxes in the State of Wisconsin. So, each week, we will begin sharing pieces of legislation that are currently being circulated in the State Capitol for co-sponsorship. Click the "LRB" link for the actual text of the bill, or click "Memo" to read the description and explanation from the lawmaker.
Currently there are no bills being circulated.
WPT Ag Report
AG News Archives and previous news articles that matter to our members.