What's New

  • BLOG: New Census Numbers -- Illinois Tax Rank Tops Upper Midwest

    In an unprecedented development, Illinois has leapfrogged every state in the upper Midwest to become the region’s most taxed state, according to federal figures for 2012 released today. The newly available U.S. Census data show Illinois’ state-local taxes climbing to 11.7% of personal income, ninth highest in the nation and well above the U.S. average (10.5%). In 2009, taxes took only 10.0% of Illinois income when the state ranked 26th. By comparison, Wisconsin’s state-local tax load......

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  • TAXPAYER: How Have Schools Fared? Wisconsin vs. U.S.

    When tax revenues dropped during the 2007-09 recession, Wisconsin school funding suffered; revenues were tightened, spending was cut, staff and compensation were reduced. However, new Census Bureau figures suggest that Wisconsin’s retrenchment was not unique. While many states made cuts during the entire 2008-12 period, Wisconsin’s revenue and spending reductions were concentrated in 2012.

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  • FOCUS: A look at school fund balances yields surprises

    The fund balances, or financial reserves, of school districts can help assess their fiscal strength. Over the past 20 years, these reserves have grown fastest when state finances and school funding policy were most uncertain. Since 1991, total statewide fund balances have grown 32.2% from $0.73 billion to $2.1 billion last year. Balances in 2013 averaged 21.4% of total school expenditures.

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  • Blog: On Surpluses, Deficits, and Imbalances

    The response to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s (LFB) recent memo about the state’s “structural deficit” has been overwhelming in volume and underwhelming in facts. Straightforward answers to some questions might be helpful.

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  • FOCUS: Candidates for elimination? Property taxes in 2015 (I)

    The property tax is Wisconsin’s oldest, and probably most unpopular tax. Property tax relief has been a campaign promise since statehood. Yet our property taxes remain 11th highest in the US and 25% above average. Special legislative committees are now studying an alternative to temporary relief--permanent elimination of the technical college and personal property tax levies.

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  • TAXPAYER: Issues for Voters, Questions for Candidates

    The November general election is fast approaching. Wisconsin voters will select a new legislature and there's also a race for governor. When these elected officials take office in January, they will have to tackle some pressing issues, including transportation finance, a slow-growing economy, and rising fiscal pressure on schools and local governments.

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Navigating the Property Tax

The property tax is Wisconsin’s largest, oldest, and most confusing tax. At least five governments use the tax, and two different methods of valuing property are used to distribute taxes among property owners. One source of confusion arises when tax rates and levies move in opposite directions, a common occurrence over the past 20 years. In addition, property owners are often unaware of how changing property values, both within a municipality and among municipalities, can cause individual property tax bills to rise, even when levies are “frozen.”

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Coming Soon: The WISTAX 2015-16 Legislative & Congressional Directory. Order One Today!

Order today for arrival in mid-January 2015! The all-new 2015-16 Legislative and Congressional Directory includes names, district maps, office phone numbers, home addresses and most recent election results for all 132 members of the Wisconsin legislature. It  also includes the names of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation, contact information and maps of their districts.


Teachers get ready for next semester: Order The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government textbook today!

The only text on WI state, county, city, village, town and school governments. In paper or digital. Teacher tool kits available.

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