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As I See It

Flat tax wrong for Wisconsin



There are plenty of ideas for what to do with Wisconsin’s huge budget surplus. There was talk of sending rebate checks back to taxpayers but that was quickly rejected. Governor Evers has proposed using part of the surplus to better fund public schools, lower property taxes and provide middle-class families with a 10% tax cut. The Republican Senate leader has another idea to change the tax code to benefit taxpayers. But that plan would only help the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Devin LaMahieu is proposing a flat tax of $3.25% for all Wisconsin taxpayers. Unfortunately, this plan would do nothing to benefit the average Wisconsin worker, while providing big benefits to the wealthy. This flat tax is the most regressive of taxes, and we’ve seen repeatedly that trickle-down economics don’t really benefit anyone except the wealthy. Under the plan, someone making over $1 million per year would see an average annual tax savings of more than $112,000. Those in the lowest tax bracket would only see about a quarter percentage point tax cut, while the wealthiest Wisconsinites would see their tax rate cut in half. If we’re going to change the tax code, it should be to adopt a system that benefits everyone in the state, not just the wealthy.

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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  1. Nick

    January 17, 2023 at 5:39 am

    It is a stupid idea and one that should never even be brought up.
    However, the sales tax is worse since the wealthy see it as an annoyance but could deter the less affluent from purchasing what they want or worse what they need

  2. Char

    January 17, 2023 at 2:55 pm

    A flat tax without deductions would result in everyone with income would pay taxes. Yes, the dollar amount would be significantly less but the same percentage of $1,000,000 verses $50,000 is very different.

    As for the surplus, fix the roads, especially in La Crosse. As a CDL driver the condition of some of the main roads through town are REALLY bad.

  3. Joe

    January 17, 2023 at 4:01 pm

    I think your point of view on this is just a bit narrow and progressive. You seem to assume this is a zero-sum exercise. The math should include those who would certainly “vote with their feet” from adjacent states with much higher tax burdens, and that would love to stay in the Midwest – rather than move to Tennessee, Florida, or Texas, or west to South Dakota. Better yet, in addition to taxpayers, small businesses would surely at least consider relocating to Wisconsin. An article in today’s Wall Street Journal reminds us that most small business owners currently in Wisconsin (~95%), are pass throughs paying at the top individual rate of 7.65% – which starts at $280,950 (not particularly wealthy). These residents would benefit immediately via the lessened tax burden on their current businesses, no trickle down required. Though the likely addition of businesses attracted from out of state, large and small, with net new jobs, would sure look like trickle down. This growth would be a boon for Wisconsin and could create a stampede from more progressive Minnesota and Illinois. I live in the Minneapolis area and currently spend almost 50% of my time in northern Wisconsin. I can confirm this change would cause me to change my residency, and my wife’s small business location. I know several others nearing retirement from the Twin Cities and Chicago who think similarly, and do not wish to leave the Midwest simply to optimize taxation. Those that do have already left and gone elsewhere. Wisconsin would do well to become a magnet for those who remain in Midwest – including those already in Wisconsin who may be considering a move.

  4. John

    January 17, 2023 at 5:04 pm

    Why is a tax cut for the wealthy automatically a bad thing? I am personally not what would be considered wealthy, but if we are supposed to be “fair”, why shouldn’t those who pay the most in taxes be allowed to realize a reduction in the amount they pay? Wealthy individuals, it seems to me, aren’t to be blamed for their success or wealth. Often, their success is a result of risk taking and plain old hard work.

  5. Budlar

    January 17, 2023 at 8:35 pm

    Wisconsin’s rich are leaving at least part time for no tax States like Florida or Texas. Getting 3.25% is better than 0%.

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