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3rd Quarter 2015
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On February 3, 2015, Governor Walker delivered his budget address.
• Budget in Brief READ
• 2015-17 Executive Budget (Complete Document) READ
• About the Budget Documents READ
• How to Read the 2015-17 Executive Budget READ
• Statewide Budget and Position Summaries READ
Official Web sites of various state offices and agencies
Wisconsin in U.S. Congress
Senate: Ron Johnson
Senate: Tammy Baldwin
District 1: Paul Ryan
District 2: Mark Pocan
District 3: Ron Kind
District 4: Gwen Moore
District 5: Jim Sensenbrenner
District 6: Glenn Grothman
District 7: Sean Duffy
District 8: Reid Ribble
Governor, Executive Branch
*an interactive almanac
of U.S. politics
New IoH law makes 20 changes
The bill makes more than 20 adjustments to the Implements of Husbandry (IOH) law, including:
• Clarifies in state statute that IOH with rubber tracks can legally operate on Wisconsin roadways.
• To alleviate the potential issuance of thousands of permits across the state, it authorizes an IOH or (agricultural commercial motor vehicle) Ag-CMV being legally operated with a permit to cross any intersecting highway under the jurisdiction of the maintaining authority that issued the permit.
• Provides the same weight, length, width and height limitations for transporting IOH by trailer or semitrailer from farm-to-farm, from field-to-field, or from farm-to-field to the same extent as if the IOH were being operated on the roadway.
• The special axle weight exemption given to Category B planting, tillage, cultivating and harvesting IOH is also given to Ag-CMVs that directly distribute feed to livestock, or directly apply fertilizer, lime, spray or seeds, but not manure, to a farm field.
• Ag-CMVs that have the capability to directly apply manure to a field, but are unable to due to field conditions, will be able to park on a road and off-load the manure to another piece of equipment for application, and still retain Ag-CMV status.
Earlier this month the State Senate and State Assembly unanimously approved Assembly Bill 113.
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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2015 1st Quarter
WPT Newsletters are published
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Wisconsin Property Taxes
You can choose any county from our list of Wisconsin counties for detailed information on that county's property tax, and the contact information for the county tax assessor's office.
DOR Guides for Property Taxpayers
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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.
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Educate and inform the whole mass of the people...They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. —Thomas Jefferson
State budget lowers property tax bill $1 this year,
$2 next year
July 27, 2015 3:15 pm • By Matthew DeFour | Wisconsin State Journal
Property taxes on a median-valued Wisconsin home are set to drop $1 this upcoming winter, and another $2 next year, the state’s nonpartisan budget agency reported Monday.
For a median-valued home of $154,268, property taxes are estimated at $2,830 in 2015-16. The home value is expected to increase to $159,205 in 2016-17, but property taxes would still decline to $2,828.
That’s a slightly smaller cut than the $7 and $3 in Gov. Scott Walker’s original 2015-17 budget proposal, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The adjustment resulted from changes the Legislature made to Walker’s budget, including allowing school districts to count students in the private school voucher program in the formula for how much they can raise property taxes. The state does not assess property taxes.
Walker has been touting how his state budgets have reduced property taxes on the presidential campaign trail. In an interview Monday with National Public Radio, he mentioned the tax cuts when asked about his approval numbers in the state hovering in the low 40s.
“I could probably pad the score if I didn’t take on really big challenges,” Walker said. “But Americans want leaders who are willing to take on a big risk and think more about the next generation than the next election.”
Assembly approves Bucks arena funding plan
Legislation to provide public financing for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena cleared the Assembly this afternoon on a bipartisan vote, and the bill now heads to the guv's desk.
The chamber did not make any changes to the bill before the 52-34 vote. Those who voted note included 20 Republicans and 14 Dems.
No one spoke against the bill during today's debate.
One after another, Dems and Republicans stressed it would cost the state much more if the team leaves, and it would be a black eye for Milwaukee.
Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, spoke to those in the Assembly who might oppose the deal because they don't believe the public should subsidize a professional sports arena. He said as a CPA, the numbers just make sense.
"We've reached a point where if we do nothing," Kooyenga said, "we subsidize them to leave."
Camping fees to increase at state parks and forests on July 28
Camping fees for Wisconsin state parks, state forests, state trails, and state recreation areas will increase beginning on July 28, 2015.
The fee increases were enacted as part of the 2015-2017 biennial state budget. The legislation calls for the fee increases to go into effect as soon as changes can be made to the camping reservation system.
The increase in camping fees is based on a three-level rate structure that will place the parks at a camping rate depending on demand, uniqueness, location and other factors. Camping rates will increase between $3 and $6 per night for residents and between $6 and $9 per night for non-residents. There is an increase in the per night charge for electrical service from $5 to $10.
Any reservations for 2015 and 2016 dates that were made prior to the rate change on July 28, will be honored at the price that was in effect at the time. Any extensions or changes to an existing reservation will result in the additional days being charged at the new rate.
“This new rate structure takes into account campsite demand at a property, uniqueness of the camping experience, and geographic locations in determining the rate placement of the property,” said Sanjay Olson, administrator of the DNR Division of Lands. “The placement of the property within these rates will be reviewed on a regular basis and the rates can be changed. We look forward to ensuring all Wisconsin residents and visitors are able to access and enjoy the natural beauty of Wisconsin’s state park system.”
Admission fees and trail passes were also increased in the state budget, but will not begin until annual stickers and passes for 2016 go on sale in December 2015, with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2016. Annual admission sticker fees will increase from $25 to $28 for state residents, from $35 to $38 for non-residents and $10 to $13 for resident seniors. Annual trail passes will increase from $20 to $25 for an annual pass and from $4 to $5 for a daily pass.
Over the last five years, the State Park System has collected an average of about $7.5 million per year in camping revenue. In 2014, there were 140,180 reservations processed through the reservation system.
The new camping rate structure is available by searching the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov for keyword “camp,” and then clicking on the link for “camping fees effective July 28, 2015.” For more information about the Wisconsin State Park System, search for “parks.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Pedretti, section chief, Bureau of Parks and Recreation, 608-264-8958; Dave Benish, DNR camping program manager, 608-264-8960
U.S. Rep. Sensenbrenner: Introduces bill to address Unattainable Cellulosic Biofuel mandate
7/28/2015 CONTACT Nicole Tieman, 202-225-5101
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 3228, legislation that requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit the volume of cellulosic biofuel to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply to what is commercially available until a comprehensive study from the National Academy of Sciences is completed.
The Renewable Fuel Standard requires increasing amounts of cellulosic biofuel to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply, but manufacturers have never produced enough fuel to meet the required standard. The EPA has lowered the mandate, but not to the actual level of production. Refiners have therefore paid millions of dollars in fines for failing to purchase an EPA-mandated product that doesn’t actually exist in the quantities the EPA demands.
Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The EPA sets unachievable standards for our nation’s refiners and the cost of the EPA’s fines are passed on to consumers at the pump. This legislation will ensure any mandates moving forward are fair, attainable, and evidence-based.”
Changes Announced to Dairy Import Licensing Program
USAgNet - 07/28/2015
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced changes to the Dairy Tariff-Rate Import Quota Licensing Program, effective Sept. 1.
Import licensing is one of the tools USDA uses to administer the tariff-rate quota (TRQ) system for U.S. imports of dairy products. A final rule published in Monday's Federal Register amends the regulation at 7 CFR Part 6.20-6.37 that provides for the issuance of licenses to import certain dairy articles under TRQ as set forth in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.
Among the program changes outlined in the final rule, USDA will suspend the historical license reduction provision, currently set to expire in the beginning of 2016, for an additional seven years. This change will allow license holders to adjust to changing market conditions affecting the dairy sector.
USDA will also modify procedures for collecting licensing fees in order to better align fee collection to the costs of administering the program.
In addition, USDA will increase the efficiency of program operations by requiring the use of electronic communications in the application, reporting and payment processes.
U of FL Researchers Use Pigs to Root Out Problem Weeds
USAgNet - 07/28/2015
Sometimes, the old-fashioned ways are the best ways. Back before chemical pesticides and herbicides, farmers had to come up with ways to kill the weeds that took over their fields. One method used "back in the day" was letting pigs loose in fields that were not being used for crops for a season and allowing the pigs to do what they do naturally: dig up the roots of weeds and fertilize the land.
In the last year, Greg MacDonald, a weed science researcher with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, decided to give the method a try to combat nutsedge, a weed that looks like grass and is so resilient it can sprout up through plastic row-crop coverings and even the plastic lining of above-ground pools.
"It forms huge numbers of tubers per plant and comes back year after year," MacDonald said.
After Dr. Daniel Colvin, the director of the Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra suggested it, MacDonald built pens and brought in domesticated pigs.
"Old-timers were practicing these methods, but nobody's ever done any research on it," Colvin said, recalling the farmers he knew as a boy using the pigs after the summer peanut crop had been picked. "You'd come in the next year and have almost no weeds at all."
In addition to feeding them regular swine feed, the pigs were allowed to root up the tubers in fields that had been heavily infested with this major weed.
"In the last year, they reduced the nutsedge by 48 percent," MacDonald said.
He could calculate the reduction by pulling multiple soil samples throughout the field, counting the number of tubers in the sample before they moved in the pigs and then three months later. This method of weed control could be used in organic farms, he said. And while he did not test for fertilizer levels in the soil, MacDonald said it is certainly an added benefit.
Capitol Report 2015
3rd Quarter | July
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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
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News updates July 28, 2015