Property Taxpayers United for Fairness and Reform Since 1985
3rd Quarter 2014
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May 2, 2014 to
Jan. 5, 2015
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June 4, 2015
Bills Signed by the Governor
as of February 21, there were 132 bills signed into law since the beginning of the 2013-14 Session.
Property Tax Bill Estimates Under January 2014 Special Session Proposal Read Here
2013-15 and 2015-17 General Fund Budget Under January 2014 Special Session Bills Read Here
Distributional Information on Proposed Individual Income Tax Rate Reduction Read Here
Wisconsin Alternative Minimum Tax and January 2014 Special Session Bills Read Here
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: Tom Petri
District 7: Sean Duffy
District 8: Reid Ribble
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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
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Independence day celebration at Governor Walker's residence on Lake Mendota.
Thank you for joining us
at the Wisconsin
Farm Technology Days!
These are our Farm Technology Days winners! They each will receive a 1 year Membership worth $200!
James Borchardt of Edgar
David Dorn of Kewaskum
John Guzek of Green Bay
Joe Koshler of Chilton
Mark Nellessen of Rosholt
Cheri Zimmerman of Grand Marsh
Congratulations! We are excited
to have you all on board!
By Ag Member Rep
I recently had the privilege of attending the 2014 Farm Technology Days representing WPT (Wisconsin Property Taxpayers) and it was enlightening in many arenas. I had an opportunity to spend some time with Mike Marsch (President of WPT) and Bert Vosters (Sales Manager of WPT Agriculture) and they gave me a greater insight into the importance and value of what we do. This alone was a valuable learning experience. We had many people stop by our booth and they offered up their opinions. While the vast majorities believed in the principals that we believe in, there were a few that disagreed. Just another example of what a democracy is and the importance of freedom of speech. Many of the people that stopped by were already members of WPT, and many that weren’t expressed an interest in becoming supporters.
We handed out many Wisconsin Badger and Green Bay Packer schedules. It was surprising to me that so many people were looking for them and we were the first ones they found.
Overall, I think the event was a huge success. Attendance for the 2014 Farm Technology Days was reported to be just under 60,000 and from what I experienced, everyone enjoyed the event.
It’s great to be a part of an organization that is so positively accepted by it’s members.
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
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.
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around the state who support
and rely on us to protect their
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Wiseye.org Live Webcast AIR click here
Senior Producer Steve Walters and WisPolitics Editor JR Ross recap Wisconsin politics for the week of August 25-29 at the WisconsinEye Studios in Madison. Watch
9/3/2014 Legislative Council Steering Committee for Personal Property Tax
On September 3, 2014, the Legislative Council Steering Committee on Personal Property Tax will hold a public meeting at the state Capitol in Madison, WI. Watch
9/4/2014 Tax Foundation Weighs In on
Elimination of Personal Property Tax
Scott Drenkard, Economist at the Tax Foundation, sat down with the MacIver Institute recently to discuss the elimination of Wisconsin's personal property tax, which collects $270 million a year for the state. The tax is on businesses for items such as office furniture and machinery. Watch
Fall 2014 General Election
Partisan Primary -- Complete Results of the August 12th Primary
General Election -- Tuesday, November 4, 2014.
The most current lists are linked here. These lists reflect the ballot access decisions of the Government Accountability Board at its June 10, 2014 meeting.
2014 Legislative Council Steering Committee for Personal Property Tax
October 1, 2014 Meeting 10:00 a.m. 225 Northwest
The Steering Committee for the symposia series on personal property tax is directed to conduct information symposia and develop recommendations regarding the state’s personal property tax. The Steering Committee shall study the fiscal effect of the personal property tax and personal property tax exemptions, the constitutional concerns that may arise in the context of personal property tax reform, and the administrative and compliance costs associated with personal property taxation; and shall develop recommendations, in the form of a committee report, for personal property tax reform. More information here
Published: 6:15 AM September 15, 2014
At one time assumed unlikely to be in place November’s general election, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the stay of Wisconsin’s Voter ID law on Friday; making it the law of the state of Wisconsin – even by the anti-Voter ID Government Accountability Board.
After hearing oral arguments Friday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay on Wisconsin's voter ID law, clearing the way for the law to be in place for November's elections.
The order says the stay was lifted in part because of a state Supreme Court ruling making it easier for some voters to obtain the necessary documentation.
"This reduces the likelihood of irreparable injury, and it also changes the balance of equities and thus the propriety of federal injunctive relief," the order says. "The panel has concluded that the state's probability of success on the merits of this appeal is sufficiently great that the state should be allowed to implement its law, pending further order of this court."
The Government Accountability Board said it is working to have the law in place for November.
"We are taking every step to fully implement the voter photo ID law for the November General Election," GAB director Kevin Kennedy said. "We are now focused on communicating with local election officials and voters, and will have more information about the details next week."
For overcoming a number of unnecessary legal challenges by opponents, Voter ID is our “Winner of the Day.”
New coalition pushes for transportation spending
State's budget faces a $680M shortfall over next 2 years
Published On: Sep 14 2014 11:06:50 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. - A new coalition including road builders, economic development leaders, local government officials and others is meeting with candidates for office to make sure they understand Wisconsin's transportation funding problems.
The state's budget for road repairs, mass transit and new construction faces a $680 million shortfall over the next two years. That is projected to grow to more than $15 billion in a decade.
The Transportation Investment Coalition formed this summer and is meeting both with current office holders and candidates to stress the need to do something about the issue, although the group is not advocating for anything in particular.
Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger Mary Burke are not offering specific plans to solve the shortfall.
Absentee ballot mailings halted in push to restart
voter ID law
By Jason Stein and Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel Updated: 6:17 p.m, September 15, 2014
Madison — Local clerks and state elections officials are putting their absentee ballot mailings on hold as they hustle to reinstate Wisconsin's photo ID requirement for voters in the wake of Friday's federal appeals court decision.
University of Wisconsin-Madison officials are also analyzing the decision and considering whether to begin issuing ID cards that could be used for voting. While some student IDs can be used for voting, the ones issued at UW-Madison and some other schools cannot.
The Milwaukee Elections Commission had been scheduled to start mailing absentee ballots to voters Monday, but instead suspended that work until Wednesday at least, director Neil Albrecht said. The Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections, directed clerks around Wisconsin to also hold off on mailing absentee ballots.
The deadline in state law to mail the ballots to those who have already requested them is Thursday. So far 8,000 people in Milwaukee alone have asked for them.
Albrecht said that like other local elections officials he is waiting on the accountability board to provide clear guidance about what clerks need to do to make sure their voters' ballots aren't invalidated.
"That's the worst thing that any of us would want to see," he said.
Meanwhile, an official with the state Division of Motor Vehicles said customers at service centers had been asking Monday whether they needed IDs separate from their driver's licenses to vote — something that isn't required.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Wisconsin's voter ID law Friday, acting less than two months before the Nov. 4 election between Gov. Scott Walker and Democrat Mary Burke.
The unanimous court ruling clears the way for the state to implement the law this fall, though it does not stop the ongoing appeal over whether the measure is constitutional. The voter ID requirement will not be in effect for special elections between now and Nov. 4, the accountability board said.
News conference planned
The decision sent election officials scrambling. Reid Magney, a spokesman for the accountability board, said his agency would likely provide advice to clerks Tuesday and hold a news conference that day at 2 p.m.
"These are complex issues, and the guidance will need to be approved by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Some issues may not be resolved by the time of the news conference," Magney wrote in an email to reporters.
The agency is determining whether it could run an ad campaign to alert voters to the photo ID requirement.
The voter ID law requires most people to submit photocopies of their IDs when they request absentee ballots. But voters had not been told to do that before Friday because until then the voter ID requirement had been blocked.
Many have already requested absentee ballots without sending in copies of their IDs. As of Friday, clerks had printed mailing labels for 11,815 absentee ballots, but not all of those had been sent.
Diane Hermann-Brown, the clerk for Sun Prairie near Madison, said the court decisioncomplicates the election for clerks because it comes as voters are already requesting and in some cases receiving absentee ballots.
"We're just trying to figure out where we stand on everything," said Hermann-Brown, a former presidentof the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association. "It's going to mean a lot of manual tracking and a lot more work."
Hermann-Brown said she hasn't sent any absentee ballots to voters, but had requests from about 500 people — most of whom hadn't included a photocopy of their ID. In those cases, Hermann-Brown said she will have to follow up with those voters to request copies.
In a few cases, she already has copies of the IDs because some voters used IDs to fulfill the separate requirement of proving they live at their stated addresses.
Some elections officials said Monday they would like to allow voters who have already requested absentee ballots to mail in a copy of their IDs when they return the ballots.
But there is one drawback. If the voters make any mistake in doing so — such as using a type of identification that doesn't qualify — it wouldn't be discovered until the ballot envelopes were opened on election night.
In that case, the ballots would likely be treated as provisional ballots, which are not counted unless voters present photo identification to the clerk by 4 p.m. on the Friday after the election.
The voter ID law was approved in 2011, but soon after was blocked by a series of court orders.
To vote under the law, people must show poll workers their driver's licenses, state ID cards, passports, limited types of student IDs, military IDs, naturalization certificates or IDs issued by a tribe based in Wisconsin.
Few student IDs qualify
Few student IDs may actually qualify for voting, however. For instance, UW-Madison's IDs do not qualify for voting because they do not meet the specifics required under the voter ID law.
"Our ID cards are not compliant, and were not designed or intended to comply with voter ID laws," UW-Madison spokesman Greg Bump said by email.
When the law was passed, campus officials put together a plan for issuing separate student IDs that could be used for voting. They are now evaluating what to do next, Bump said.
The voter ID law allows student IDs to be used for voting only if they come from Wisconsin-based colleges and universities, have signatures on them and expire within two years of being issued.
Jim Villa, a spokesman for the UW System, did not say Monday how other campuses were responding to the decision or whether the IDs they issued their students could be used for voting.
The latest decision was handed down by Judges Diane Sykes, Frank Easterbrook and John Daniel Tinder. Sykes is a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush. Easterbrook was appointed to the appeals court by President Ronald Reagan and Tinder was appointed by Bush.
It came less than two months after the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the voter ID law in two other cases. In one of those cases, Wisconsin's high court found the state could not require people to produce documents they had to pay for — such as birth certificates — to get IDs for voting.
In response, Wisconsin created a new process for people to get IDs if they don't have birth certificates or other key documents. That process debuted Monday, and 14 people without that documentation used it, said Jim Miller, director of field services for the Division of Motor Vehicles.
Others at DMV offices had asked about whether they needed a new, separate ID card specifically for voting, Miller said. Clerks have been telling them they can use their driver's licenses, state ID cards or certain other types of IDs to vote, he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter ID law in 2008, but since then several states have passed voter ID laws and lawsuits are pending around the country. Legal observers expect the U.S. Supreme Court to eventually weigh in on the issue again.
Hermann-Brown said clerks want finality from courts and state elected officials so they can do their jobs without having the requirements change in the run-up to an election. "We're the Ping-Pong ball on the table," she said.
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 09/15/2014
The upcoming harvest season may provide the best test yet on the effectiveness of Wisconsin's new Implements of Husbandry law. The policy establishes a new class of vehicles on state roads called Agricultural Commercial Motor Vehicles, or 'Ag CMVs,' which can now operate at weight limits 15-percent higher than previously allowed unless seasonal or other special weight postings apply.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte said in an editorial last week that it's critical that farmers and custom operators talk with local officials now about how the new law is enforced--especially if they are not clear about all of its provisions.
"Don't be lulled into thinking this issue is over because the law was enacted last spring," Holte said. "Local ordinances and resolutions concerning weight limits need to be in place by January 15 in order for them to be in effect for next year's growing season. Right now your town and county officials are making decisions about how this law impacts your farm in 2015."
He recommends that farmers and operators do their research to find out what their machinery and vehicle combinations weigh. Holte said it only takes a handful of phone calls on a topic for a town or county official's ears to perk up.
"So call them. Invite them to a Farm Bureau meeting, or organize Farm Bureau members to attend a town or county meeting (and let them know you're coming)," he advised. "It's imperative that you have a dialogue about the options available to them and how your farm uses roadways to move farm machinery."
Lawmakers who drafted the new policy say it delays enforcement of size and weight limitations by state patrol officers until January 15, 2015.
Meanwhile, the no-fee permitting provisions, weight limitations and exemptions from weight limitations will sunset in January 2020 in order to force the legislature to review the law within five years.
Video series outlines new Implements of Husbandry law
September 4, 2014
Release Date: September 4, 2014
Media Contacts: Jim Dick DATCP 608-224-5020 firstname.lastname@example.org
Peg Schmitt WisDOT 608-266-5599 email@example.com
Cheryl Skjolaas UWEX 608-265-0568 firstname.lastname@example.org
MADISON – Is my farm equipment Category A, B or C?
What’s my per axle weight limit on a state highway?
What’s an Ag-CMV?
All good questions about Wisconsin’s new Implements of Husbandry law that can be answered in a series of IoH-Act 377 videos produced by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) in conjunction with The Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the University of Wisconsin Extension.
“These training videos are designed to give farmers and local government officials easy access to basic information they will need before harvest equipment starts hitting the roads and highways this fall, “ said Jim Dick, DATCP Communications Director. “Many farmers may not even realize there are new requirements for the equipment they’ve been driving on public roads for years.”
The topics for these nine videos include new definitions of IoH and an Agricultural Commercial Motor Vehicle (Ag-CMV), weight limits, lighting and markers, rules of the road, local options for municipalities and more. The series of videos can be found at: www.youtube.com/user/widatcp/videos
These videos supplement in-person educational IoH sessions being held around the state that are coordinated by the UW-Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. You can find a regularly updated list of these training sessions by going to: fyi.uwex.edu/ioh. Anyone interested in hosting one of these IoH training sessions can contact your local county Extension office.
“UW-Extension is also getting requests for programs to help farmers determine the axle weights and gross vehicle weight of their equipment,” said Cheryl Skjolaas, Interim Director at the UW Center for Agricultural Safety and Health. “We have portable scales on loan from the Wisconsin State Patrol that can be used for weight limit demonstrations. Anyone interested in such a program should also contact their county extension office.”
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation website at AgVehicles.dot.wi.gov is another source of information regarding the new Implements of Husbandry law. There you will find more details on IoH/Ag CMV definitions, weight limits, permits and answers to frequently asked questions.
There are a number of changes in this new IoH law that will affect farmers immediately. Other changes won’t take effect until next year.
The Wisconsin State Patrol will only issue warnings for most IoH violations until January 15, 2015 but operators are still subject to county and local ordinances and enforcement.
Grants Available to Grow Wisconsin Local Goods
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 09/15/2014
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture is again offering Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grants to strengthen the state's agricultural and food industries.
"Just as a wide variety of foods makes for a healthy diet, a variety of farms and agribusinesses makes for a healthy economy," said BLBW Program Manager Teresa Engel. "We encourage growers, processors and distributors of diverse products to apply, and we look forward to funding some innovative ideas."
The competitive grant was launched in 2008. Since its inception, there have been over $6 million in new local food sales and thousands of dollars in new investments and and jobs.
Proposals will be accepted from individuals, groups, businesses and organizations involved in Wisconsin agriculture, food processing, food distribution, food warehousing, retail food establishments or agricultural tourism sites. Proposals could include collaborations or partnerships.
A total of $200,000 is available in grant funding; the maximum award for each project is $50,000. Grant applicants must provide a cash or in-kind match of at least 50 percent of the total project budget.
Pre-proposals must be received at DATCP by December 1. For more information, call 608-224-5134.
Capitol Report 2014
3rd Quarter | September
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WPT Helping You Grow
Wisconsin’s Farm Economy.
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Our own Ag Member Representative Donovan Dolph - July 4th, 2014