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4th Quarter 2014
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I recently was called by Terry Mulville representing Wisconsin Property Taxpayers. I am delighted to say Terry is the most professional person I have ever had visit me for this organization.
Well read, well informed, easy to talk “with” always listening when he should be and staying on track. Very much a businessman and pleasant to converse with. Hope he stays on.
Manitowoc Motor Machining
May 2, 2014 to
Jan. 5, 2015
Bills sent to Governor
June 4, 2015
Property Tax Bill Estimates Under January 2014 Special Session Proposal Read Here
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Distributional Information on Proposed Individual Income Tax Rate Reduction Read Here
Wisconsin Alternative Minimum Tax and January 2014 Special Session Bills Read Here
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Wisconsin in U.S. Congress
Senate: Ron Johnson
Senate: Tammy Baldwin
District 1: Paul Ryan
District 2: Mark Pocan
District 3: Ron Kind
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District 7: Sean Duffy
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Who We Are
and What We Do
Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc. (WPT)
is the voice of Wisconsin’s property taxpayers in the State Capitol, working to reduce the statewide property tax burden and reform Wisconsin’s antiquated and regressive property tax system.
Founded in 1985, WPT represents the interests of thousands of commercial, agricultural and residential property taxpayers throughout the state who volunteer their financial support and personal commitment to the organization and its objectives.
WPT is the only statewide taxpayers’ organization registered with the Ethics Division of the State’s Government Accountability Board to lobby exclusively for property tax relief and reform.
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WPT’s experienced government relations specialists, field representatives and technical support staff conduct a variety of activities including legislative analysis, policy and opinion research, media relations, public information and legislative liaison service, to increase public and legislative support for the organization’s public policy objectives.
WPT regularly communicates with members through personal contact, newsletters, member surveys, policy briefs and legislative action alerts.
WPT assists members in dealing with local property tax issues and answers members’ questions related to assessments, property tax exemptions, state laws and administrative rules, and provides information useful in appealing and reducing their property tax liability.
For more information about who we are, what we do, and what we have helped to accomplish over the years, go here
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Independence day celebration at Governor Walker's residence on Lake Mendota.
Thank you for joining us
at the Wisconsin
Farm Technology Days!
James Borchardt of Edgar
David Dorn of Kewaskum
John Guzek of Green Bay
Joe Koshler of Chilton
Mark Nellessen of Rosholt
Cheri Zimmerman of Grand Marsh
Congratulations! We are excited
to have you all on board!
By Ag Member Rep
I recently had the privilege of attending the 2014 Farm Technology Days representing WPT (Wisconsin Property Taxpayers) and it was enlightening in many arenas. I had an opportunity to spend some time with Mike Marsch (President of WPT) and Bert Vosters (Sales Manager of WPT Agriculture) and they gave me a greater insight into the importance and value of what we do. This alone was a valuable learning experience. We had many people stop by our booth and they offered up their opinions. While the vast majorities believed in the principals that we believe in, there were a few that disagreed. Just another example of what a democracy is and the importance of freedom of speech. Many of the people that stopped by were already members of WPT, and many that weren’t expressed an interest in becoming supporters.
We handed out many Wisconsin Badger and Green Bay Packer schedules. It was surprising to me that so many people were looking for them and we were the first ones they found.
Overall, I think the event was a huge success. Attendance for the 2014 Farm Technology Days was reported to be just under 60,000 and from what I experienced, everyone enjoyed the event.
It’s great to be a part of an organization that is so positively accepted by it’s members.
How Property Taxes Work
August 1, 2011 04:18 PM ITEP
The property tax is the oldest major revenue source for state and local governments. At the beginning of the twentieth century, property taxes represented more than eighty percent of state and local tax revenue. While this share has diminished over time as states have introduced sales and income taxes, the property tax remains an important mechanism for funding education and other local services. This policy brief discusses why property is taxed and how property taxes are calculated.
Why Tax Property?
The property tax is rooted largely in the “benefits principle” of taxation. Under this view, the property tax essentially functions as a user-charge on local residents for the benefits they receive from the local policies funded by property taxes. These policies benefit local residents directly in the form of better schools and fire protection, and indirectly in the form of increased housing values.
The property tax also helps differentiate between families of very different means by taxing families with large quantities of wealth more heavily than those without such reserves. But the impact that property taxes can have on low-income families, and particularly the elderly, makes clear that the linkage of the property tax to the ability-to-pay principle is far from perfect.
Finally, the stability and enforceability of the property tax make it among the best options available for providing local governments with a predictable revenue stream that can be used to fund indispensable services like schools, roads, and public safety.
How Property Taxes Work
Historically, property taxes applied to two kinds of property: real property, which includes land and buildings, and personal property,
such as cars, boats,
and the value of
stocks and bonds.
Most states have
moved away from
property and now
primarily on real
In its simplest form, the real property tax is calculated by multiplying the value of land and buildings by the tax rate. Property tax rates are normally expressed in mills. A mill is one-tenth of one percent. In the most basic system, an owner of a property worth $100,000 that is subject to a 25 mill (that is, 2.5 percent) tax rate would pay $2,500 in property taxes. In reality, however, property taxes are often more complicated than this. The first step in the property tax process is determining a property’s value for tax purposes. In most cases, this means estimating the property’s market value, the amount the property would likely sell for.
The second step is determining the property’s assessed value, its value for tax purposes. This is done by multiplying the property’s market value by an assessment ratio, which is a percentage ranging from zero to one hundred. Many states base their taxes upon actual market value—in other words, these states use a 100 percent assessment ratio. A significant number of states, however, assess property at only a fraction of its actual value. New Mexico assesses homes at 33.3 percent of their market value, and Arkansas uses a 20 percent assessment ratio. Some states place a cap on increases in a home’s assessed value in any given year, which in many cases can lead to vastly different assessment ratios among similarly valued homes (For more detail, see ITEP Brief, “Capping Assessed Valuation Growth: A Primer”). And even when the law says properties should be assessed at 100 percent of their value, local assessors at times systematically under-assess property, reporting assessed values that are substantially less than the real market value of the property.
After the assessment ratio has been factored in, many states reduce a property’s assessed value further by allowing exemptions. The most common type of exemption is referred to as a “homestead exemption.” In Ohio, for example, the state allows an exemption for the first $25,000 of home value. Subtracting all exemptions yields the taxable value of a property. (For more on homestead exemptions, see ITEP Brief, “Property Tax Homestead Exemptions”).
The next step in the process is applying a property tax rate, also known as a millage rate, to the property’s taxable value. The millage rate is usually the sum of several tax rates applied by several different jurisdictions: for example, one property might be subject to a municipal tax, a county tax, and a school district tax. This calculation yields the tentative property tax before credits.
Many states allow property tax credits that either directly reduce the property tax bill, or that reimburse part of the property tax bill separately when taxpayers apply for them. Subtracting these credits is the final step in calculating one’s property tax bill—though taxpayers are often required to pay the pre-credit property tax amount, only to later have the amount of the credit refunded to them. (For more detail on one type of property tax credit, see ITEP brief, “Property Tax Circuit Breakers”).
Other Property Tax Issues
While property taxes on owner-occupied homes tend to receive the most attention, the presence (or absence) of tax on other forms of property also has important implications.
Businesses pay property taxes just like local residents. Property taxes on businesses are mostly borne by business owners. Business property taxes generally make the property tax less regressive, since business owners tend to be wealthier than average.
Property taxes also impact taxpayers who rent, rather than own their home. This is because owners of rental real estate pass through some of their tax liability to renters in the form of higher rents. The impact of property taxes on renters is of particular concern because renters tend to be significantly less well-off than their homeowner neighbors.
Non-profit entities are generally exempt from state and local property taxes. While these exemptions can make it easier for these organizations to pursue their missions, it can mean that local governments have difficulty raising the revenue needed to provide quality public services. This issue is most significant in areas with large non-profit hospitals and/or universities. PDF
WPT is the voice of Wisconsin’s Property Taxpayers, your voice, in the Wisconsin State Legislature. Whether you have a comment, a thought to share, a question about your assessment or property tax bill, how your property tax dollars are spent, what’s going on in the Legislature, or any of a thousand property tax related questions we answer for our members, WPT wants to hear from you.
If you are not a member, but would like to join the thousands of taxpayers
around the state who support
and rely on us to protect their
interests in the Legislature
click on the “Join Us Now!”
to get started.
We are involved in everything that affects our members’ property tax burden. Some of the articles below may take you from WPTonline. Simply click your back browser to return.
Wiseye.org Live Webcast AIR click here
12/10/14 DNR Board Meeting
12/12/14 Rewind: Your Week in Review
Senior Producer Steve Walters and WisPolitics.com editor JR Ross discussed the week that was in politics for the week of December 8-12 at the WisconsinEye studios in Madison, WI. Watch
In the spirit of our
Happy Hannukah from WPT
Capitol Report 2014
4th Quarter | December
PDF use your back button to return
WPT Helping You Grow
Wisconsin’s Farm Economy.
Member's, if you haven't received
your 3rd QTR newsletter in the mail please contact us.
Our own Ag Member Representative Donovan Dolph - July 4th, 2014
These are our Farm Technology Days winners! They each will receive a 1 year Membership worth $200!
Lawmaker Might Try Again To Pass Statewide Frac Sand Regulations
As Tiffany Considers Re-Introducing Legislation, Democrat Says Law Would Eliminate Local Control
By Christie Taylor and Rich Kremer
Monday, December 15, 2014, 12:35pm
A Republican state lawmaker says he’s thinking about trying once again to create statewide regulations for frac sand mines after legislation to do so failed to pass in the last two sessions.
Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, who co-sponsored both of the previous bills, said on Monday that he thinks that the current “patchwork” of local and county regulations is discouraging commerce and entrepreneurship.
“We just want to make sure that there’s consistent regulation that helps entrepreneurs and others to be able to live with their neighbors and be able to foster economic development here in the state of Wisconsin,” he said.
Local towns and villages can now use what are called police powers to set regulations on things like hours of operations and noise levels for frac sand mines and processing facilities. In addition, several western Wisconsin counties have imposed temporary moratoriums on the fast-growing industry, while other local governments have required companies to pay for wear and tear from the extra traffic of sand over local roads.
Tiffany said some of these road use agreements have gone too far, amounting to “extortion agreements.”
“There’s a couple municipalities that have gone too far in demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars from local companies,” he said.
He also said that it was especially important to have uniform environmental standards and permitting regulations, which he said was one of the biggest goals of any legislation he would propose.
At least one Democratic state lawmaker, however, believes the regulations that Tiffany is considering are unnecessary and would remove key aspects of local control. Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, who opposed last year’s attempt to pass statewide regulations, also said she expects that any new bill will have the same problems as the one that was rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in March.
“What they did (in the previous attempt) was take away the ability of local people to say where, when, how, and how much we’re going to do sand mining,” Vinehout said.
Vinehout said the state already has sufficient environmental standards — the staet Department of Natural Resources is just not equipped to enforce them. She said the department needs 31 new employees just to enforce air, water, and other environmental standards governing the mines. Furthermore, she said, the DNR didn't have enough baseline air and water quality data to make science-based decisions about the safety of mines.
Ultimately, Tiffany said the shape and timing of any regulation was still up in the air. Local control, he said, should strike a balance between local government autonomy and protection of residents’ property rights. He said he was still discussing with county and municipal government associations what the best course of action would be, something he’d decide after the start of the New Year.
Vinehout said she expects the bill to be very much like the one that failed this spring, and would be tacked on to the budget to ensure its passage.
“The rumors in the Capitol have been very strong that Senator Tiffany is planning to put this legislation in the budget at the last minute where it doesn’t get a public hearing, where the statewide press is paying attention to a lot of different issues and it’s hard to find that bandwidth for the people and the press to pay attention to this particular issue,” said Vinehout.
Editor's Note: This story was updated with reporting from the Monday afternoon WPR News broadcast.
Host: Joy Cardin
Guest(s): Kathleen Vinehout, Tom Tiffany
Producer(s): Bill Martens
© Copyright 2014 by WPR.org and Wisconsin Public Radio. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Tax Relief and Reform Report Released
This is an overview of what the Secretary and Lt. Governor
learned from Wisconsinites: "your opinions, not a series of recommendations based on our opinions. We wanted the taxpayers' voice to be heard and we heard you loud and clear: you want lower taxes and a simpler tax code." READ
Wisconsin Needs Right To Work
By Duey Stroebel Published: 6:00 AM December 03, 2014
Over the past four years, Governor Walker and the Republican-led Legislature have enacted some of the boldest conservative reforms in Wisconsin history. From the expansion of school choice to the long-lasting reforms brought about by Act 10, Wisconsin’s reformers have been willing to stand up for bold and innovative policies. After months and months of grueling campaigning, when given the choice between more bold reforms or a reversion to the stale policies of the Doyle Administration, Wisconsinites resoundingly decided that more reforms were in order. As the Walker Administration and Legislative leaders form their collective legislative agenda for the upcoming session, I implore them to take up one of the key reforms yet to be given serious consideration – right to work legislation.
Currently, 24 states have some form of right-to-work legislation in place. In a right-to-work state, as statutorily permitted by the 1947 Taft Hartley Act, no agreement between a union and an employer may force any employee to become a member of a union or pay any fee to a union. In other words, membership and any payments to a union must be voluntary. The other 26 states permit a union contract to require unwilling workers to become union members or to pay the often-steep union dues.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, from 1977 to 2012, employment in right-to-work states grew by 105% while the employment numbers in non-right-to-work states grew by only 50%. In addition, real income for the average person in a right-to-work state was 65% higher in 2012 than in 1977, while in non-right-to-work states real income increased by only 50%.
However, in addition to and almost more important than any economic argument, right-to-work legislation fulfills the American right and tradition of free association. No person should ever be forced to become a member in or contribute to a private organization, in particular organizations that within recent memory have become more involved in partisan political activity. Good ideas don’t require compulsion to find followers.
Unions take away an individual’s right to bargain for oneself. Opponents assume everyone is benefiting from mandatory union representation, but this is often not true. What about the single parent who would rather have schedule flexibility than an extra 15 minute break? What about the employee who wants to approach their boss about a raise on the basis of his or her own merit? Forcing representation on an otherwise capable individual removes these, and many other, options.
Fellow Midwestern reformers in Indiana and Michigan have led the way on right-to-work. Wisconsin should follow their lead and embrace an individual’s freedom of association. I urge my friends in the Legislature to continue on the path of bold reforms and embrace liberty-focused policies. As Wisconsin has proven over the past four years, when conservative reforms are enacted, free market advantages are sure to follow. Let’s get to work.
Rep. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg) has represented the 60th District in the Wisconsin State Assembly and previously served on the Cedarburg School Board. He is an announced candidate for the 20th State Senate District.
Continuing Wisconsin's Era of Reform
By Kurt R. Bauer Published: 7:00 AM December 08, 2014
Wisconsin’s transformation from an anti-business to a pro-business state has been remarkable, but it is also incomplete. There is more work to be done in order for our state to achieve its full economic potential.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin doesn’t control its own economic destiny and wrong-headed federal policies and uncertain global economic and geopolitical conditions are holding us back. But, that shouldn’t be an excuse to take our foot off the reform accelerator in order to improve Wisconsin’s business climate. Here are some reforms the 2015-16 Legislature should consider.
Worker Freedom: Should joining a private-sector union be voluntary as it is in 24 states or should it be mandatory? Beyond the personal freedom component to this debate is the economic development argument. It is well-known that site selectors who decide where businesses expand or relocate shun closed shop states like Wisconsin in favor of Right to Work states like Iowa, Indiana and Michigan.
Regulatory Reform: A majority of the most expensive regulations that retard growth are federal, but there are two major state-level regulatory reforms that the Legislature should address.
The first is aligning the state and federal versions of the Family Medical Leave Act. Wisconsin enacted its version before President Bill Clinton signed the federal law in 1993. The Wisconsin law is now a duplicative compliance headache and should be replaced.
The second is Worker’s Compensation (WC) reform. WC costs in Wisconsin are higher and are growing faster than in almost any other state. Last summer, WMC formed a working group that includes health care providers, businesses (i.e., payers) and insurers to explore ways to reduce costs.
Taxes: Despite more than $2 billion in tax relief since Governor Scott Walker was first elected in 2011, Wisconsin is still in the top 10 of the highest taxed states, according to the most recent ranking from the DC-based Tax Foundation. Eliminating the highest personal income tax bracket, which was created by Governor Jim Doyle, would offer relief for many small businesses and should finally drop us out of the infamous top 10.
Infrastructure: Three of Wisconsin’s most important economic sectors – manufacturing, agriculture and tourism – depend on quality infrastructure. But as automobiles become more fuel efficient the gas tax is not generating the revenue needed to maintain our roadways, let alone build new ones. Bonding isn’t a long-term solution. The simplest way to fund roads is through a modest gas tax hike and increasing the vehicle registration fee.
Mining: Wisconsin doesn’t have shale oil, but we do have the sand used for hydraulic fracturing. As a result, Wisconsin is enjoying a sand boom that has created thousands of good paying jobs in largely economically challenged rural areas.
But the radical environmentalists who have so far failed to stop fracking have now targeted frac sand mining. Their goal is to stop sand mining by driving up local regulatory costs that create a patchwork of illogical rules. WMC will advance legislation to promote statewide regulatory certainty and uniformity.
Workforce Training: Wisconsin’s worker shortage will soon become a crisis, which is why Congress needs to act on immigration reform. At the state-level, Wisconsin should continue its impressive investment in worker training and rebuild our once strong apprenticeship programs.
Kurt R. Bauer is the President and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
Senate Approves Tax Extenders Package,
Including Sect. 179
USAgNet - 12/17/2014
The U.S. Senate voted 76 to 16 on Tuesday to pass a tax extenders package that holds key provisions for small businesses such as section 179 expensing and bonus depreciation. The tax extenders package was previously approved in the U.S. House of Representatives and now heads to the White House for approval, where President Obama is expected to sign it.
Section 179 allows farm businesses to take the full depreciation deduction of items in the current tax year, with a maximum deduction of $500,000 and a phase-out threshold of $2 million.
"Farmers and ranchers rely on tax provisions that give them the flexibility they need to invest in their businesses and boost their local economies," said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman. "Small business provisions like Section 179 and bonus depreciation increase cash flow, and that lets farmers and ranchers put their money back to work immediately so they can care for their land and animals."
The retroactive extension means producers will be operating under an expired tax code in 2015, but it could add the needed pressure to complete a comprehensive tax reform deal in the New Year, according to experts.
Tuesday's measure also includes the dollar-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit.
Senate OKs Section 179 Deduction; Act Quickly To Claim By Year's End
12/17/2014 @ 9:45am
Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.
With just shy of 2 weeks left until the end of the year, Congress has finally made it official: The IRS Section 179 tax deduction limits that were scheduled for a major haircut this year have been restored to previous limits, and it's retroactive through all of 2014 for purchases up until December 31.
The Senate on Tuesday approved a bill pushed through the House of Representatives 2 weeks ago that keeps the deduction levels intact; you can now still deduct the full purchase price of a piece of equipment, machinery or other big-ticket item in a few categories, up to $500,000. In addition to machinery, the deduction covers computers, "off-the-shelf" computer software for business use, office furniture and equipment and other business vehicles and "tangible personal property used in business," according to Section179.org.
"The Tax Extenders Bill passed by the House on Dec. 3, 2014, was voted on and passed by the Senate on Dec. 16, 2014, retroactively expanding the Section 179 deduction limits thru 12/31/2014," according to a report on Section179.org. "Only this 2014 tax year will be covered by this measure - therefore it is a good business decision for many to buy/finance equipment immediately to make the December 31, 2014 cutoff for the write-off provisions. Technically, the bill is a one-year, retroactive extension of the tax breaks, even though it only lasts through the end of the month."
But, if you're claiming the deduction, for which the Senate also reinstated the 50% bonus depreciation provision, you better hustle. You'll have to apply for Section 179-qualified financing immediately if you're going to make the year-end deadline.
Congress sends key tax extenders legislation to the president
6 hours ago
WASHINGTON - Congress sent a tax extenders package to the White House, with President Obama's expected signature needed for key provisions for small businesses such as Section 179 expensing and bonus depreciation.
The U.S. Senate voted 76-16 on Tuesday to pass the package. The House of Representatives already was on board.
Leaders from livestock and grain organizations had pushed for the extension.
National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Bob McCan said this is great news for cattlemen and women.
"America's cattle producers are primarily family-owned small businesses who need stability in the tax code in order to make sound business decisions," said McCan, a cattleman from Victoria, Texas. "This tax extenders package encourages economic growth and provides greater certainty in the tax code."
Kent Bacus, director of legislative affairs for NCBA, said the extension of Section 179, a provision that provides a higher deduction level for some capital expenditures, like machinery and equipment, and the extension of bonus depreciation are key for producers.
"Last year producers were able to expense up to $500,000 on capital investments, but this year that was lowered to $25,000," said Bacus. "For large equipment purchases and other capital investments, cattle producers need certainty in order to properly plan for their business."
Unfortunately, Bacus said, the retroactive extension means producers will be operating under an expired tax code in 2015, but it could add the needed pressure to complete a comprehensive tax reform deal in the New Year.
The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomed passage of the bill, which would extend the dollar-per-gallon Biodiesel Tax Incentive.
"Passage of the tax extenders bill is a welcome relief to farmers as we close our books on 2014," said Wade Cowan, a farmer from Brownfield, Texas, and the new ASA president. "While it's not the long-term fix we need, the legislation does include the dollar-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit, expensing for farm equipment and infrastructure under Section 179, and bonus depreciation on farm assets, all of which provide greater certainty and a more stable climate for the farmers and producers who make use of these programs."
Cowan pushed Congress to redouble its efforts to pass a longer-term tax extenders package. "These aren't solutions that benefit farmers in some years and not in others. We need them every year on every farm," he said. "So we encourage both chambers of Congress to come together and find a solution that extends these beneficial provisions for the long term. What we need is certainty in the tax code, not a guessing game."
Also included in the package was language from the House's Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which carried with it a provision to increase the barge fuel fee by nine cents a gallon to fund needed waterways infrastructure projects. The fee, which is supported by those in the waterways industry, dedicates funds to new waterways infrastructure construction and major rehabilitation of the inland waterways system through the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.
The National Milk Producers Federation had strongly supported including the provision in legislation extending more than 50 expired tax breaks for one year.
"Dairy farming requires significant investments in machinery and equipment," said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. "By allowing producers to immediately write off these purchases, extending Section 179 gives producers a year-end incentive to invest in their businesses while it reduced their record-keeping burden."
In November, 42 agricultural organizations urged Congress to include Section 179 in any tax bill considered in its post-election session. Mulhern thanked Congress for acting before the end of the year.
"Failure to restore Section 179 would have added to the financial strains on family farmers who already find it difficult to pass on their farms to the next generation," he said.
WISTAX Filling Potholes
A New Look at Funding Local Transportation in Wisconsin
A Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance Study for the Local Government Institute Read PDF
12/16/14 Newsmakers: Local Government Leaders Preview Legislative Session
On December 16, 2014, Senior Producer Steve Walters hosted a Newsmakers program with local government leaders to discuss the upcoming legislative session at the WisconsinEye studios in Madison, WI. Watch