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Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine

Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine Getting to the Heart of School Finance

October 2016  •  Vol. 84 No. October
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School districts in Wisconsin are funded largely with a combination of state aid and local property taxes. The mix of these two revenue sources depends on district property wealth and student characteristics. School property taxes are... Read More


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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - September 2016  •  Vol. 84 No. 9TIF: The Municipal Development Tool

    Since 1982, local governments in Wisconsin have used more than $6.2 billion of property taxes on tax incremental finance (TIF) projects, including $3.5 billion over the past 10 years. The state currently has 1,212 tax incremental... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - August 2016  •  Vol. 84 No. 8County Government in Wisconsin

    Sometimes referred to as Wisconsin’s “invisible governments,” counties are little understood and often overlooked. Yet counties, which predate Wisconsin statehood, provide cradle-to-grave services that state government... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - July 2016  •  Vol. 84 No. 6/7Wisconsin's Migration Challenge

    IRS figures show Wisconsinites move to other states at lower rates than residents of all but three states. However, because Wisconsin lags in attracting people, it is a net loser in migration. Weather, relatively low wages, and, in some... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - May 2016  •  Vol. 84 No. 5Has Legal Gambling Plateaued in Wisconsin?

    Beginning in 1965, voters in Wisconsin have approved five constitutional amendments allowing certain forms of gambling in Wisconsin. Today, the state lottery and tribal gaming generate the most revenue. Since 2001, the state lottery has... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - April 2016  •  Vol. 84 No. 4The Ups and Downs of State Fiscal Health

    Wisconsin’s official financial statements are unknown to most residents, but they contain information that can be used to measure state fiscal health over months, a year, or much longer. A review of these reports shows fiscal... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - March 2016  •  Vol. 84 No. 3One Hundred Years and Counting: Wisconsin’s Income Tax: History, Process, and Filers

    Wisconsin became the first state to tax income in 1911. Now, the income tax generates $7.3 billion annually, or about half of state general fund revenue.   In 2014, two-thirds of filers had incomes under $50,000 and paid 9.4%... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - February 2016  •  Vol. 84 No. 2In Their Own Words: Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidates

    On Tuesday April 5th, voters will choose a justice to serve on the state Supreme Court for the next 10 years.  Justice Rebecca Bradley and Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg were the two top vote-getters in the February primary.  Here,... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - January 2016  •  Vol. 84 No. 1The Property Tax No One Knows

    Wisconsin’s personal property tax is unknown to most residents as it applies only to certain business property. The tax is riddled with exemptions, and the $287 million it now generates is about one-fourth the inflation-adjusted... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - December 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 12The Puzzle That is Wisconsin Taxes

    State and local taxes totaled $27.9 billion in 2015, up 1.4% from last year. As a share of personal income, the state-local tax burden fell from 11.2% of income in 2014 to 11.0% in 2015. Local taxes, which fell from 4.1% to 3.9% of... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - December 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 11Two State Economies, One Rare Metro

    Proximity and history make comparisons of Wisconsin and Minnesota economies inevitable. Careful study of the two states shows contrasting industry mix and unusual success of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area as major factors in the two... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - November 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 102015-17 Budget Recapped

    Although the governor and legislature were of the same party, the 2015-17 state budget’s road to enactment was at times bumpy. The two branches were at odds over U.W. funding and control, K-12 school aids, as well as the future of... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - November 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 9A State Report Card

    The governor’s 1997 Lyall Commission recommended that “an annual report card on the state of the Wisconsin economy be issued, tracking progress in the growth of quality jobs, education, and training.”... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - September 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 7/8Increasing Complexity, Unplanned Change: The Story of School Finance in Wisconsin

    Wisconsin spends more public dollars on K-12 education than any other program. However, due to its complex nature, school finance is not well understood. The complicated “three-legged stool” approach implemented in the... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - July 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 6How Do Towns Measure Up?

    The town meeting, where voters set the property tax levy, decide compensation for town offices, and adopt plans for the election of the town board, is one of the few remaining examples of direct democracy in the U.S. As a result, town... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - June 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 5States Race for Federal Money

    In 2013, federal spending in Wisconsin was slightly more than the amount state residents and business paid in federal taxes. However, on a per capita basis, federal spending here trailed the U.S. average by nearly 17%: The Badger State... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - June 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 6How Do Towns Measure Up? A Closer Look at Town Finance

    The town meeting, where voters set the property tax levy, decide compensation for town offices, and adopt plans for the election of the town board, is one of the few remaining examples of direct democracy in the U.S. As a result, town... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - May 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 4The Spending No One Sees

    Like the federal tax code, Wisconsin’s tax laws are filled with exclusions, exemptions, deductions, and credits. Once passed into law, they are often forgotten by lawmakers. Yet, these “tax expenditures” have a variety... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - March 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 3Chipping Away at Tradition: Constitutional Offices Past and Present

    When Wisconsin became a state in 1848, the new constitution created six positions to be elected statewide: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and the superintendent of public instruction. As... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - February 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 02Taxpayer: What's On The Ballot? The Supreme Court

    Voters will make two important decisions this spring affecting the Wisconsin Supreme Court. First, they will elect a supreme court justice to serve for the next ten years; Justice Ann Walsh Bradley is being challenged by Judge James P.... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - January 2015  •  Vol. 83 No. 01Wisconsin's Evolving Technical Colleges

    Wisconsin is home to the nation’s oldest technical college system, which was established in 1911 to enable residents to obtain training for technical and skilled positions and to encourage economic development. Since then, many... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - December 2014  •  Vol. 82 No. 12Here Comes the 2015-16 Legislature

    The 2014 elections were largely a continuation of the status quo. Republicans continue to control both houses of the legislature: 63-36 in the assembly and, pending a special election, 18-14 in the senate. Legislative turnover continued... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - December 2014  •  Vol. 82 No. 11Total Taxes in Wisconsin, 2014

    Total state and local taxes were nearly unchanged in 2014, rising 0.2% to $27.6 billion. State tax collections declined 0.6% due largely to individual income tax cuts, while local taxes rose 1.6%. State-imposed limits on property taxes... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - October 2014  •  Vol. 82 No. 10State Budget Process

    Wisconsin’s state budget is as important as it is extensive, covering taxes, spending, and a range of issues that touch on nearly every aspect of public life in Wisconsin. Voters do well to follow the state budget and influence it... Read More

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    Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine - September 2014  •  Vol. 82 No. 9Navigating 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... Read More

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