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As I See It

Is sales tax answer to our high property tax?

Scott Robert Shaw

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WIZM News recently asked La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat what could be done to reduce property taxes in the city. His answer was that the state needed to provide more flexibility for local municipalities to help them reduce their reliance on the property tax. That won’t happen before Kabat leaves office, but La Crosse’s next mayor could get that flexibility. As part of his state budget proposal, Governor Tony Evers is proposing allowing local governments to impose an additional half cent sales tax. Under the Governor’s plan, Wisconsin counties, would be allowed to impose a sales tax of an additional half cent. The state’s largest cities, including La Crosse, would be able to also impose an additional half cent sales tax. At first, the reaction may be that now isn’t the time to increase taxes. But the Governor’s plan allows local communities to decide if they want to impose the additional tax. Before the tax could be raised, the plan would have to be approved by residents in the form of a referendum. That gives local communities the ability to decide if this is best for them. Even if a higher tax was approved, the sales tax would still be lower than our midwestern neighbors. Indiana’s sales tax is 7%, Minnesota’s is 6.875% and Iowa’s is 6%. And unlike the property tax, the sales tax would also be paid by those visiting Wisconsin, so it would be more spread out. Perhaps enough to reduce our high property taxes. This plan addresses Wisconsin’s over-reliance on the property tax, and would finally give local taxpayers a greater voice in how public services are funded, but only if they agree they want it.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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