A Brief History

The nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) was created to empower citizens to run their government by providing them with the research and education needed to fulfill that task. 

 WISTAX founders believed that informed citizens are vital to effective, representative government. They also recognized the importance of an independent source of unbiased information about Wisconsin government that could be used by citizens and government officials alike.

The Alliance began in the fall of 1931, as the Great Depression began tightening its grip on the state economy. Gov. Philip F. La Follette convened a group of Wisconsin's business leaders to discuss the problems facing state government. State tax collections were declining because of rising unemployment and tax delinquency. At the same time, state government needed more revenue to cover the rising cost of unemployment relief.

From these discussions came the idea for a statewide organization to study taxation and recommend ways to reduce the cost of providing government services. As a result, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance was formally established on Feb. 15, 1932.

In its first two years of operation, WISTAX was an advocacy group. It developed specific proposals for cutting taxes and government spending and solicited public support for those proposals. WISTAX also attempted to form county taxpayer groups with dues-paying members.

In 1934, this initial approach was abandoned. The Alliance's reports lacked credibility because the organization advocated a point of view and the local taxpayer groups sometimes became involved in political contests.

Since then, WISTAX has done objective research and provided citizens, the media, and public officials with accurate, unbiased information about the workings of Wisconsin state and local government. Over time, WISTAX built an unrivaled reputation as "the independent voice of authority" on Wisconsin state and local government finance.

We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.